BY SCOTT ALEXANDER: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd-We have long created jobs whose purpose was to expose people to trauma. Moderation of awful videos and other content is the latest one…

The Verge writes a story (an exposé?) on the Facebook-moderation industry.

It goes through the standard ways it maltreats its employees: low pay, limited bathroom breaks, awful managers – and then into some not-so-standard ones. Mods have to read (or watch) all of the worst things people post on Facebook, from conspiracy theories to snuff videos. The story talks about the psychological trauma this inflicts:

It’s an environment where workers cope by telling dark jokes about committing suicide, then smoke weed during breaks to numb their emotions…where employees, desperate for a dopamine rush amid the misery, have been found having sex inside stairwells and a room reserved for lactating mothers…

It’s a place where the conspiracy videos and memes that they see each day gradually lead them to embrace fringe views. One auditor walks the floor promoting the idea that the Earth is flat. A former employee told me he has begun to question certain aspects of the Holocaust. Another former employee, who told me he has mapped every escape route out of his house and sleeps with a gun at his side, said: “I no longer believe 9/11 was a terrorist attack.

One of the commenters on Reddit asked “Has this guy ever worked in a restaurant?” and, uh, fair. I don’t want to speculate on how much weed-smoking or sex-in-stairwell-having is due to a psychological reaction to the trauma of awful Facebook material vs. ordinary shenanigans. But it sure does seem traumatic.

Other than that, the article caught my attention for a few reasons.

First, because I recently wrote a post that was a little dismissive of moderators, and made it sound like an easy problem. I think the version I described – moderation of a single website’s text-only comment section – is an easi-er problem than moderating all of Facebook and whatever horrible snuff videos people post there. But if any Facebook moderators, or anyone else in a similar situation, read that post and thought I was selling them short, I’m sorry.

Leave a Reply