In February 2019, The Verge published a story about what it means to be a content moderator for Facebook. Casey Newton interviewed workers from Cognizant, an outsourcing company located in Phoenix that is dedicated to reviewing the contents that are published on the social network.
Cognizant didn’t allow to the moderator to comment about the job they were carried out, but this also meant that they could not talk to anyone about the emotional damage caused to them by the contents they had to review: murders, suicides, hate speech, among others.
Although external contractors are asked to offer offices similar to those available to Facebook workers, the working conditions are far from the same. In the case of Cognizant workers, they earn almost ten times less than their counterparts in Silicon Valley and have no schedule freedom.
In 2014, a similar report published by The Wired made the company more sensitive to the working conditions of its external contractors. The report by Adrian Chen also addressed the conditions of workers of offshoring service companies, such as TaskUs in Manila, Philippines.
On this occasion, Facebook also had an answer to the revelations of the report. A few hours after the publication of the article by The Verge, the company undertook to better audit its external partners.
Facebook established concrete actions
In this week, Facebook announced concrete actions to improve the working conditions of the content moderators.
In a press release, Janelle Gale, Vice President of Human Resources and Arun Chandra, Vice President of Global Operations, pledged “to pay all those who work under contract on Facebook in the United States a salary that reflects the local living costs even more. For those who review the content of our site and make sure that it operates following the standards of our community, we go further. We will provide them with a higher base salary, additional benefits, and more support programs, given the nature of their work. “
The commitment of the company goes beyond pay. “We are taking measures to contribute to higher welfare of the teams that review the content, in addition to providing to their capacity for adaptation. All content reviewers, whether full-time employees or employees of associated companies have access to wellness and resilience resources. This includes trained professionals on site for individual and group counseling. And as with all people who perform contract work, content reviewers also have comprehensive health care benefits, “the company said.
The program that Facebook has announced will be the first of many and has been made based on the comments of psychologists specialized in global resilience and the content reviewers themselves.
Among the measures to be adopted, will be:
- Continuous training on welfare and resilience. Facebook wants to make sure that every person in these teams has the skills they need to take care of themselves and each other.
- Preferences that allow reviewers to customize the way they view certain content. For example, you can now choose to blur graphic images by default before reviewing them temporarily. The Facebook team made these changes after listening to the opinion that reviewers want to have more control over how they view content that can be difficult
- The company has also launched a resilience survey to all partner sites in the world to get a better idea of the needs of content reviewers, a survey that will be applied twice a year. Facebook will use the results of the polls to shape their programs and practices.
Finally, Facebook intends to create international standards that will require all the outsourcing services it has contracted inside and outside the United States.