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In June, it was revealed that Facebook content moderators were suffering from brutal working conditions. The Tampa Bay Time’s report published a report on Wednesday, revealing that not much has changed since then.
Employees at Cognizant Technology Solutions, which received a contract with Facebook to moderate its content in 2017, shared with the Times that they are still working long hours, seeing a decline in their mental health services, and constantly being traumatized by the content they are forced to watch.
One employee said they “felt in constant danger—psychologically, and at times even physically.” The June report, they said, had little impact on their managers.
One manager did confess, on condition of anonymity, that managers often ignore the concerns of employees and constantly remind them that they are disposable.
Employees are forced to watch everything–from infants being raped and pigs being set on fire to beheadings. Yet, they are offered little mental health support.
One former moderator said they were initially asked to work 35 hours a week and promised access to a counselor. Over time, the number of work hours increased and a counselor wasn’t always readily available.
In March, a 42-year-old employee named Keith Utley died after having a heart attack at his desk. Employees didn’t hear about his death from managers, only learning about it through Utley’s father, who arrived at the workplace to collect his belongings.
Yet, Cognizant spokesperson Rick Lacroix told the Times that the company offered support to the employees following Utley’s passing.
Employees are reportedly strictly monitored during their break periods. They have to make their own judgment calls as to what constitutes abusive or approvable content, but with Facebook constantly changing its metrics, that can be challenging.
Lacroix refuted the allegation, saying the company doesn’t limit employees’ break time, rather Facebook is in charge of “approving” these policies.
Lacroix also vowed that Cognizant is going to start having 24-hour counselors available for employees.
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Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque