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Facebook Will Pay Out $52 Million After Failing To Protect Moderators From Dangers Of Extreme Content

Published 1 year ago
By Forbes

TOPLINE Former Facebook moderators will receive at least $1,000 each after Facebook agreed to pay $52 million to settle a lawsuit over allegedly failing to protect moderators being exposed to harmful content online.

KEY FACTS

  • Moderators were exposed to the worst types of content online including terrorism, pedophilia and animal abuse. They were hired by Facebook through third-party firms.
  • The settlement covers more than 11,000 current and former moderators across California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. It was filed at San Mateo County Superior Court on Friday.
  • Plaintiffs who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, including PTSD, qualify for additional compensation of up to $50,000.
  • The social media giant says it will change its policies in response to the case, and introduce compulsory group counseling sessions for moderators, while third-party firms will be required to step up support for moderators’ mental health.

CRUCIAL COMMENT

Lawyer Steve Williams, representing the plaintiffs, toldThe Guardian: “The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe. So the fact that we got some real, meaningful relief going forward just feels really good.”

KEY BACKGROUND

Facebook was sued in September 2018 by former content moderator Selena Scola, who developed PTSD after nine months in the job, thanks to regular exposure to images of rape and murder. The scale of the mental toll on moderators was exposed by The Verge last year. The outlet reported that some Facebook content moderators working for IT firm Cognizant CTSH in Arizona had developed fringe views after exposure to extreme right-wing and conspiracy theorist content, while some had developed PTSD. To cope, some moderators at the firm smoked weed to numb their emotions, while being paid just $28,800 a year. A Guardian report last year found that moderators for Facebook based in Berlin were becoming addicted to extreme content, were overworked and paid little. 

— Selena Scola (@selena_scola) May 12, 2020

Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, Business

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