Inside the traumatic life of a Facebook moderator
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Inside the traumatic life of a Facebook moderator

– In 2017, Facebook announced it would expand the number of people it had working on safety and security to 30000, 15000 of which would
be content moderators. Content moderation is
a really difficult job. You have to take Facebook’s policies, which can change every day, and then apply them to decide what stays up on Facebook and Instagram and what comes down. A couple of months ago, I was contacted by some moderators who worked for Facebook in Tampa, Florida through a company called Cognizant, and they told me that they
wanted to go on the record. Now, this is a really big deal. Everyone who works for Cognizant signs a lengthy nondisclosure agreement in which they pledge not to talk about the work that they’re doing. But the moderators who I met in Florida told me that they wanted to tell their story to the world so that we all could understand what it’s like to do this job day to day and about the longterm
mental health consequences of policing the biggest
social network in the world. (somber music) – [GPS] Take the next
left onto West Avenue. – [Shawn] I was ecstatic. I thought I was gonna
climb the corporate ladder. I thought, you know, this is Facebook, I’m gonna be doing some really good stuff. – Um, I thought I was gonna be reading Facebook posts all day, so people going, you know, everybody posts their business on Facebook, so I was gonna read everybody’s stuff and then be able to, you
know, decide if it has to stay up or come down, so, I
thought it would be a fun job. (somber music) – [Casey] What did they tell
you the job was gonna be like? – [Shawn] Basically they
told me that I would be going onto like high
profile social media accounts, such as like Disney World
or like Animal Orlando, and I’d be doing kind of
like some data searching, like seeing what types of
posts most people react to and comment to and like to. – At what point did it become clear to you that you weren’t going to be
helping businesses on Facebook? – Uh, probably the second
or third day of training, and basically we had an
outline of what we were doing and none of it was business, it was graphic violence, hate speech, sexual solicitation, sexual exploitation, that kind of stuff. – So they told you we’re gonna put you in a queue of content that is dedicated to graphic violence, and hate speech? – Yes. You would get the occasional random thing, but for the most part, it was always graphic violence and hate speech, because that’s all that
was coming in for us. – Did anybody ask you
about your mental health before they assigned you to that queue? – Nobody ever asked about my
mental health there, yeah. Nobody said anything about mental health. (somber music) – [Casey] What were like
some of the kinds of things that you would see that
would be really hard for you? – [Michelle] Oh, where do I start? Um, animals, mostly animals,
the abuse of animals. I’ve seen them, had a puppy
with a rope hanging it, and I’ve seen a pit of
pigs and they threw fire and you can hear the pigs screaming. I don’t wanna get emotional
talking about the animals. – There was one where
there was a baby that was, they were twin babies.
– [Michelle] Twin babies. – From like Saudi Arabia, and the mother was dropping the baby on the ground. This is one we saw over and over again, and then choked the baby, and you hear the baby gurgling,
and trying to breathe, and for days, it infected my mind. I had to know what happened to this baby because I’d seen it over
and over and over again, and luckily the baby was okay. (sighing) (sobbing) – Sorry, um.
– [Casey] It’s okay. (sighing) – I just think about all
the animals all the time, and that’s what I’m still thinking about, even though I left.
– [Casey] Yeah. Do you remember the
first video that you saw? – It was a video in a different language, and it was these two teenagers, and they came across an
iguana on the street, and one of the kids grabbed
the iguana by the tail and they started to smash
the iguana onto the ground, and you could just hear
the iguana screaming. And that was one of the first
videos I saw on that queue. – [Casey] Yeah.
– And they just, they kept slamming the iguana onto the ground, and the iguana just kept
screaming and screaming, and then the screaming stopped. It was just a bloody pile, and the kids were just
laughing at the iguana. – Were you able to remove
that video from Facebook? – No, since that video had
no title and no caption, we were supposed to send it to a different queue for Spanish speaking. But I don’t there really
was a Spanish speaking queue that was taking care of that. – Killing an animal on screen,
uploading that to Facebook, at least when you worked
there, that was okay? – That was okay. (sighing)
I just think about that. And we’re not helping the
animals either, we’re not, not even humans, we’re
not even helping humans. I have seen videos of a babysitter choking a toddler to death and giving bloody noses to babies, and it stays, and nobody does anything, and it’s just there, it’s always there. You have to always look at it. You always see death, every single day. You see pain and suffering. And it just makes you angry, because they’re not doing anything. The stuff that does get deleted, it winds up back there anyway. (somber music) – [Michelle] Maybe a
psychological test would help, because, you know, some people
can handle certain things than others, and maybe they won’t be affected with PTSD or any anxiety or whatever the case
may be that could come from seeing this stuff
over and over again. – How did you get through
it during the day? – I ate. When you look at bad stuff all day, sometimes you just wanna
eat something sweet to make you feel better. – How else did you change
while you were doing this work? – I was very snappy with everybody. I had night terrors,
like almost every night. I was only getting like
an hour or two of sleep because I was just so, I was just always thinking
about the content, the videos, the pictures, the people and the animals
that were basically, you know, their whole
deaths were broadcast. Like the most cruel things imaginable. Just, it’s there, and
it’s allowed to be there. – Did you go talk to somebody
about your night terrors? – Yes, I did. I went to a mental health
facility in Clear Water, and they diagnosed me with PTSD. They gave me some medication
for night terrors. They also prescribed me some Xanax. It really has helped a
lot with my sleeping. I’m able to sleep again. Just knowing that there’s this
kind of stuff still going on just scares the heck out of me. It’s terrifying to know
that that stuff is real. (somber music) – [Casey] So Facebook has told me they don’t have quotas for how many jobs that moderators are supposed to do. How did you feel when you were there? – There’s a quota. – Yeah, what is it? – Well, it started where
it used to be higher, like 354, was it? And then, right about
the time we left, it was, they’re like well, we want to
at least do two, 250 a day. That’s a quota to me, if you’re telling me to do that many jobs. – What is the score? – Oh, the score. You’re supposed to be
getting a 96 to 98 percent, but nobody in our training class actually got anywhere close to that. Everybody was in the
eighties, including myself. – So the basic idea of the score is that the 15000 moderators
it has around the world should be executing
their policies perfectly and they should be taking down everything that should be taken down and leaving up everything
that should be taken up, and they should do that with a 98 percent degree of accuracy? – That is correct. – But it’s not happening in practice, because as you’re just saying, the policies are changing how often? (laughing)
– Daily. – How much pressure is there on moderators to keep that score high? – That’s their main focus.
– That’s probably the main focus there, and every day, it’s, you’ve got bad quality,
you’ve gotta send it back, you’ve gotta do, like, all the time, you’ve gotta do disputes on this, oh, why is your quality so low? Every day, every day. – Every day there they’re
sort of hammering that home, that you need to be perfect. (somber music) Walk us through, like, your
average day doing this job. – You sat at your desk,
you put on your headphones, and you worked all day. No one came to comfort you. If you were upset, no one came to talk to you throughout the day. If you turned around to talk to a friend, you were being screamed at for not looking at your
content and doing your work. They say all the time okay, we have these counselors here to help you, but we’ve got nine minutes
of wellness every day. So I’m supposed to go
talk to this counselor about the 500 videos I’ve
looked at today in nine minutes and I’m supposed to be okay? It doesn’t make any sense. – It’s a toxic environment. The higher ups don’t really care. They’re very nonchalant about
the problems that are there, such as workers having
sex in the building. People are drinking alcohol and smoking weed in the parking lot. Just a lot of sexual harassment going on from the higher ups to
the content moderators. And there was a problem of the bathrooms. Some employees thought it was funny to smear feces all over the stalls and urinate on the floor. – And how many bathrooms are there for the 800 employees that work there? – One bathroom. There is one bathroom
in the entire building. – Why didn’t you quit while
you were doing this job? – Well, as I said before,
the market was tough. It’s tough down here, and you know, I had such difficulties finding a job and I was scared to find another job, and it was also just
kind of something weird, that the managers would
always tell the employees where it’s like, uh, oh, if you quit, you’re gonna have to go
back to call centers, because like I guess like
that was the only thing that a lot of these people
did, was call centers. – So they’re reminding you, this is the best you can do around here. – Yes.
(laughter) – For 15 dollars an hour? (laughter) – I was actually really excited for that, because in college, all
my professors were like you know, you wanna get that good 30000 dollars starting entry level job. – Absolutely disgusting. Always the desks were disgusting,
pubic hairs on the desks. Boogers on the desks. They never did a fire
drill because they said Facebook wouldn’t let us off
the content to do a fire drill and one time, Facebook
was coming to visit, and the day before, they had every manager painting and cleaning the building so it would look presentable for Facebook, and that just proves that Cognizant knew it was not acceptable for the building to be in this condition. It’s like a sweatshop in
America, it really is. All they care about is getting
that content moved through. (somber music) As long as you were sitting in your desk not talking to anybody else
and doing your content, they were happy. It didn’t matter. Nobody there matters. – What do you think people
should know about this job that they don’t already? – When I actually got into all of this, and they explained what
I was really doing, they made it feel like you were going to make a difference on social media, and there were going to
be people and animals that you could help bring justice to. You’re not doing that at all. All that you’re doing is
covering up Facebook’s mistakes. – Hey, thanks for watching,
and if you want to know more about our ever changing social networks and their effects on the world, I invite you to subscribe
to my daily newsletter The Interface, you can find it at And of course if you want more
great videos from the Verge subscribe to this channel.

77 thoughts on “Inside the traumatic life of a Facebook moderator

  1. Have you worked as a content moderator? We’d like to hear your experiences, especially if you have worked for Google, YouTube, or Twitter. Email Casey Newton at [email protected], or message him on Twitter @caseynewton.

  2. I feel like if you go to jail and are a certified sociopath you would be fine doing this job. Maybe this is a way that they can integrate back into society.

  3. I may or may not be able to handle that job I'm a Scorpio but there's some scary movies I've seen that made me sad but I get over it quickly

  4. 250 videos/photos of abuse daily for 6 hours, yeah humans were not meant for this job. It just…happened, nobody planned for it. Imagine explaining this job to someone from 100 years ago, we truly live in a weird world and its about to get stranger with all the new innovations like AI.

  5. Uh…i think its kinda clear it's the content moderators job to filter what content stays up or not, and that includes making sure violent content doesnt pass thru to the public. What do they expect; inevitably theyd have to check those kinds of things so they should have known earlier. I dont see what this fuzz is all about sheesh

  6. this is a job that should be contracted to people working at home, where they feel safe and comfortable. and they can look at content when they feel well enough to do so

  7. no offence just a observation. it really seems that they sought resort in eating to get rid of metal trauma

  8. Wow… I commend everyone working in a field where they have to witness such brutalities. Thank you for your sacrifice to keep us and our children from seeing such violence. I hope you find peace and comfort. You are the light.

  9. I think I could do this job. Like friends come to me and tell me some really bad stuff that’s happened to them. I feel like I’m slowly becoming numb to it or something, I think I can do it. And I don’t care about money. I mean somebody has to do this right?

  10. Imagine it's your first day at work and your boss comes to you and tells you that you will be responsible for the middle east

  11. YouTube has now recommended or autoplayed this video to me over ten times… me thinks the algorithm is trying to take a stab at Facebook.

  12. This shows how sick people are. Why do those people even post it on social media anyway??? Though, I salute to those moderators seeing these contents daily to make sure that the platform is clean.

  13. I once saw a news clip of a guy who grabbed a dog by the ears and throws it over a rile, I don't know who was the bigger monster, the guy who threw the dog over the rail once or the news guy who kept repeatingly showing it 15 f**** times!

  14. This is how you get facebook jail for no reason because the employees don't get treated good enough to care.

  15. There are some very real issues here, but, the two ladies saying that this was a "sweatshop" and complaining that they wanted their employees to actually work while on the clock instead of turning around and talking to each other is absolutely ridiculous. You can't say that you're working in a "sweatshop" when you get an hour and nine minutes of break every day. Are you kidding me? Real sweatshops work CHILDREN for 16 hours a day with barely enough time to eat and relieve themselves. So, that part of these interviews bothered me because it doesn't seem quite genuine. Also, their suggestion that they didn't know what their jobs were going to be about is their own fault; if I were going to take a job with FB as a moderator, I would get on FB and read their policy because that would tell me exactly what my job was going to be, and it is clear from reading their policy that moderators will be dealing with this kind of content.

    So, it seems to me that they found employees who weren't suited for this particular job and used it to paint the worst possible picture. That makes me not trust this as much. They should have been more "objective" with this reporting.

  16. So these are the offended people when I put something about my Catholic faith… good do know. Now they have a face in my prayers for their soul and their hatred towards my faith.

  17. Sign up for Fashbook, get Fashbook treatment. Social sites are the worst thing that has happened to humanity since ww2, not even joking.

  18. Plenty of SPONSORED cryptocurrency scams floating around on FB… repeatedly reported but they still popping up.

  19. Just to be correct and fair, the story about the mother from Saudi abusing her kids is not accurate, it was a foreign maid who did that, and the parents had put surveillance cams when they suspected something was happening. so make sure your facts are straight before saying "Saudi", because it really doesn't matter you could've said " a mother"…

  20. The effect of social media in our lives are becoming more and more terrifying. Without us knowing, these social platforms are eating up our mental health, not only with these content moderators(who btw NEEDS WEEKLY MENTAL HEALTH THERAPHY and not just MONTHLY SALARY) but also to us users. We've been all attacked emotionally and mentally in this cyberspace we built.


  22. They got paid double the federal minimum wage to go on Facebook everyday and they’re acting like they have the worst job in the world

  23. I watch this sort of thing for fun. Not the animal abuse stuff, or children stuff. Burning adults alive? Bring on the Rubber tires!

  24. Seen the level of stress normal people are subjected to.. i would say they should hire people like DEXTER to do the job.. with a precise rule-bible!
    I don't think AI could do the job if they add emotional intelligence to it..
    because trust me it will start becoming misanthropic, antipathetic & hateful towards humans (just like I am) & it will just wipe out humanity right there & then (and I wld agree with it! That's what we deserve!)

  25. I dont think this is a job for the every day person. It should be a higher salary and be for people who are pretty numb to this kind of thing.

  26. I really had to hit mute when he started describing the things he saw done to animals.. I thought he was done and hit unmute and just heard "bloody pile" and had to hit mute again… no human should be subjected to this kind of work. Imagine seeing this kind of thing day after day, hour after hour. Honestly.. it makes me want to just stop using social media altogether, if this is what people have to go through.

  27. Are you aware that many veterans from intelligence agencies and military industry sit on board of Facebook, and also other social media… What do you think, why is that? Why is Facebook banned in almost all banks, GOV agencies and similar establishments?

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