Another Facebook controversy has surfaced revealing that more than 200 staff members requested to work from home, but the tech giant refused despite the alarming COVID-19 situation. These were independent content moderators who accused the tech giant of risking their lives for the sake of profit. These content moderators are responsible for flushing out hateful and misleading information from the social network.
They wrote an open letter to state their dismay over Facebook’s decision amidst the raging pandemic. These happened despite the fact that their work could easily be carried out from the confines of home. They demanded the tech giant to maximize work from home, offer hazard pay, provide real healthcare, and end outsourcing.
Facebook Controversy About Treatment Of Moderators
Moderating content is most probably the hardest job in Facebook’s workplace. It hired an entire board for this job but was unable to take care of the workers. These independent moderators are employed by third-party contractors like CPL and Accenture to moderate Facebook’s content. They said that they have been forced to work at office, while full time staff of Facebook is allowed to work from home till July 2021.
Last month, staff hired by Accenture returned to work in Austin, Texas after being forced. Few days later, one of them tested positive for coronavirus. Staff mentioned in the letter how psychologically torturous this job is; trying to tackle the rubbish people spread on internet. They said walking into a coronavirus hot zone added to that torture.
The staff asked for flexibility in working from home, especially for those who live with vulnerable individuals like children, elders, and sick. Facebook is not the only tech giant to face staff problems during the Pandemic, Amazon’s employees brought a guillotine outside Jeff Bezos’ house due to low pay and safety conditions at warehouse.
Will AI Moderation Solve Facebook’s Problem?
The staff even mentioned that the tools Facebook provide them to deal with this problem, were not workable. There is a very problematic AI assigned to the moderation department. It can let a very important speech get lost in the trash and bring forth risky content like self-harm. Moderates deemed it a major reason for Facebook to call them at office.
The AI was supposed to automatically find and block junk like hate speech, misinformation, or abuse. Facebook claimed that about 95% of the malicious posts were cleared before they were reported. However, people still saw hateful, racist, and sexist posts related to current vice president elect, Kamala Harris, during the time of US Elections 2020.
It was understandable that there were some internal problems at Facebook, which were revealed by the open letter. The AI is clearly not working which is pushing moderators away from the tech giant.
Moderators Are Done With Facebook
Due to Facebook’s treatment of its independent staff members, many left for something less toxic and more progressive. According to LinkedIn analyses by several agencies, over 25 people took in-house jobs at TikTok, who previously moderated content for Facebook. The viral video app is rapidly increasing the numbers of its content moderators. Reportedly, it has almost 10,000 people working to ensure trust and safety on its platform.
Facebook on the other hand faced criticism from its ex-moderators. One from Dublin actually sued the tech giant after experiencing psychological trauma (PTSD) in this kind of work. He said that people are horrible and he had to bear a lot of filth for so less money.
Gray said that TikTok is far better than Facebook in terms on content because of less extremism. This Facebook controversy is alarming as tech giants were supposed to assist their staff in these trying times rather than make them more difficult for them.