Facebook is being investigated by European authorities following the emergence of new reports of degrading working conditions among its moderation team. According to outsourced employees reported to the Irish Parliament, the company fails to provide access to resources that allow it to deal with the offensive messages and traumatic content to which employees are exposed.
Isabella Plunkett, who works for Covalen – a company that offers moderation services for the platform -, says that her contractor does not offer adequate access to mental treatment resources. She explains that the company offers an hour of “wellness time” each week, but the people responsible for this are not qualified health professionals.
Plunkett adds by saying that Covalen fails to provide adequate support to its employees, who are often advised to do activities such as painting or attending karaoke as a way of dealing with the traumatic contents to which they are exposed. “Nobody can be well after watching graphic violence for 7 to 8 hours a day,” she said in her statement.
Facebook takes a stand
In a statement, Facebook said it is committed to working with its partners to provide the necessary support to its moderation team. The company’s spokesman also said that all employees in the area receive adequate training and have access to the psychological support necessary to maintain their well-being.
In the case of Ireland, the social network says it offers a 24-hour health service that operates seven days a week, as well as technical solutions that limit exposure to materials considered sensitive as much as possible. This is not the first time that the company has been investigated as a result of the way it treats its moderators: in 2020 it was ordered to pay US $ 52 million to American moderators who developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress while working.
Live Now: Discussing the vital issues facing social media content moderators around the globe. Hosted by Foxglove with Isabella Plunkett, Facebook content moderator, @loreillysf [email protected] Join us. https://t.co/0zIT3xK1KG
– Foxglove (@Foxglovelegal) May 12, 2021
In his testimony, Plunkett said he was afraid to speak publicly about the situation, as all moderators are forced to sign confidentiality documents when they are hired – to which they have no further access. Covalen denied the information, said it has internal policies that encourage its employees to express criticism and discontent, and said that its technicians for “well-being time” are highly qualified.
Foxglove, a nonprofit advocacy group that works on the case, says that while Facebook depends on moderators to function, it treats them as “second-class citizens”. Among the requirements of the group is the regulation of the social network by the Irish government, as well as the obligation that the moderation team stop being outsourced and start working internally. In addition, he suggests that moderators may choose not to deal with sensitive content, be subjected to independent group evaluations and have access to effective psychological support.