Revealed: catastrophic effects of working as a Facebook moderator

" A group of current and former contractors who worked for years at the social network’s Berlin-based moderation centres has reported witnessing colleagues become “addicted” to graphic content and hoarding ever more extreme examples for a personal collection. They also said others were pushed towards the far right by the amount of hate speech and fake news they read every day.

They describe being ground down by the volume of the work, numbed by the graphic violence, nudity and bullying they have to view for eight hours a day, working nights and weekends, for “practically minimum pay”.

A little-discussed aspect of Facebook’s moderation was particularly distressing to the contractors: vetting private conversations between adults and minors that have been flagged by algorithms as likely sexual exploitation.

In February, the technology site the Verge produced one of the first behind-the-scenes reports from a US Facebook contractor. Similar to their Berlin colleagues, the Americans reported that “the conspiracy videos and memes that they see each day gradually led them to embrace fringe views”, and that a former moderator “now sleeps with a gun at his side” after he was traumatised by a video of a stabbing.

Others were dealing with trauma by self-medicating. Just as the Arizona moderators were reportedly turning to drugs and alcohol, so were those in Germany. “I saw a lot of big consumer drugs in the company,” Daniel said. “We don’t have any way to destress. The company, technically, is against drugs.”"

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