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Facebook moderator quits due to stress induced insomnia, says company does not give mental health support

A Facebook content analyst in a letter has noted that breathing exercises are not enough and that while it may help an employee to get back to work, it does not do a lot for stress induced insomnia.

twitter-logoIndia Today Tech | April 15, 2021 | Updated 13:25 IST
(Picture: Reuters)

Highlights

  • The content moderator noted that content analysts are paid to look at the “worst of humanity” for eight hours a day.
  • He noted that the company severs the connection between the policymakers of the platform and the moderators who spend the most time enforcing them.
  • Facebook hires content analysts or moderators through third-party contractors and does not give them the same benefits as salaried employees, as per reports.

A Facebook content moderator in Texas has called out the company's moderation system and its failure to support content analysts. In a note penned by the moderator, who has now quit his job, has noted that Facebook encourages moderators to do "breathing exercises'' instead of providing adequate mental health support. He has also noted that the company severs the connection between the policy makers of the platform and the moderators who spend the most time enforcing them.

Following a class-action lawsuit, last year Facebook in a statement had noted, "We are grateful to the people who do this important work to make Facebook a safe environment for everyone. We're committed to providing them additional support through this settlement in the future."

However, the analyst called these measures "inadequate." "While Facebook has improved certain things in response to public pressure, the wellness program remains inadequate," he wrote.
"Many managers seem to be under the impression that a brain is basically a machine that can be maintained in a straightforward way. If you see something that upsets you, you should be able to deal with it by stepping away and doing a breathing exercise. If the problem is really bad you should talk to a wellness coach," he said.

"Taking a few deep breaths or visualizing a calm beach might allow you to get back to work, but it doesn't do a lot for stress induced insomnia after you get home. We're the tonsils of the internet, a constantly bombarded first line of defense against potential trauma to the user base," he added.

The letter further noted that content analysts are paid to look at the "worst of humanity" for eight hours a day. "This is a job that's impossible not to take home with you," he noted.
Facebook hires content moderators from third-party firms and they do not get the same benefits as the company's salaried employees, as per reports. The moderator was contracted through Accenture in Austin and the letter was shared by a journalist Ryan Mac from Buzzfeed News.

Last year, Facebook had to compensate content moderators with $52 million as part of a class-action lawsuit for the psychological harm it causes them. The moderators had noted Facebook failed to protect them from psychological and other injuries that can result from repeated exposure to graphic material such as child sexual abuse, beheadings, terrorism, animal cruelty, and other disturbing images.

The Guardian had once quoted a moderator saying that the first thing he views after switching on his computer at 9 AM is watching people's heads being cut off. The report stated that the psychological damage caused to these moderators was such that they could not sleep or had nightmares. They accused Facebook of failing to provide a safe workplace.

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