Facebook laid the foundation of its Hyderabad office in India a decade ago to support the growing number of users, advertisers and developers in the country as well as globally. Although today Facebook has five offices in India -Hyderabad, Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore. Out of which the content moderators in Hyderabad were forced to return to the office despite the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The content moderators at Facebook are responsible for deleting offensive content such as hate speech, terrorism and nudity etc. The moderators in Hyderabad hired by Genpact, a third-party contracting firm which outsources moderation to around the world, were pressured to return to the office as early in July without thinking about the safety of the employees.
Reported by Rest of World, "People are forced to go to work, even if they are not happy to," a senior moderator told the publication. "The operations team told them these are important orders. There's a threatening factor behind [it]."
Genpact has employed roughly 1,600 moderators in India and claims that the moderation services are subject to be performed in the office due to the sensitive nature of the work. It further adds that the in-office work was done voluntarily. "To make this manageable, safe, and clear, employees need to sign a weekly form that asks them to voluntarily agree to this," a Genpact spokesperson told Rest of World.
Whereas Facebook told The Verge, "Our focus for reopening any office is on how it can be done in a way that keeps our reviewers safe. To do this we are putting strict health and safety measures in place, making sure they're followed, and addressing and disclosing any confirmed cases of illness." In a statement, the social media giant also clarified that a majority of Genpact's content moderators continue to work from home.
Facebook retains over 15,000 content moderators across the globe out of which many contractors are not able to avail the same benefits as of corporate employees. The contractors, which are often low-paid, are offered in-office meals which play as a crucial supplement to their low incomes.
Facebook says its content moderators are still being paid irrespective of office closures. However Facebook has been using money incentives to get moderators working full time in the office, as reported by The Washington Post in May.
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