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Former Facebook content moderator says job gave her PTSD, sues company

By midian182 · 13 replies
Sep 26, 2018
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  1. Selena Scola worked as a content moderator for Facebook contractor Pro Unlimited, Inc. from June 2017 up until March this year. She was tasked with identifying and removing content that violated the company’s Community Standards, which includes hate speech, graphic violence and self-harm images and videos, nudity and sexual content, and bullying.

    First reported by Motherboard, Scola’s lawyer says the “constant and unmitigated exposure to highly toxic and extremely disturbing images at the workplace” resulted in her developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

    “Ms. Scola’s PTSD symptoms may be triggered when she touches a computer mouse, enters a cold building, watches violence on television, hears loud noises, or is startled,” the lawsuit states. “Her symptoms are also triggered when she recalls or describes graphic imagery she was exposed to as a content moderator.”

    While Facebook says it provides "in-house" psychological and wellness support to its moderators and addresses these concerns during staff training, Scola's lawsuit claims the company doesn’t go far enough to protect its workers. The class action seeks a “Facebook-funded medical monitoring program” that would “include a trust fund to pay for medical monitoring and treatment.”

    With of thousands of current and former moderators who worked for Facebook in California over the last three years, plenty of people could join the class action. The social network currently has over 7500 people working to identify content that violates its policies and says it will expand that number to 20,000.

    Back in January last year, two former Microsoft employees from its Online Safety Team sued the company over claims that exposure to extreme material caused them to develop PTSD.

    Facebook has responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:

    "We are currently reviewing this claim. We recognize that this work can often be difficult. That is why we take the support of our content moderators incredibly seriously, starting with their training, the benefits they receive, and ensuring that every person reviewing Facebook content is offered psychological support and wellness resources. Facebook employees receive these in house and we also require companies that we partner with for content review to provide resources and psychological support, including onsite counseling - available at the location where the plaintiff worked - and other wellness resources like relaxation areas at many of our larger facilities."

    Permalink to story.

  2. Facebook is garbage, but they shouldn't have to pay a dime to this woman. The job she signed up for specifically involves viewing extremely graphic content...and she's suing because she had to review said content. If you can't handle it, don't sign up for it.

    It's like a cop suing the county because they did an "inadequate job of protecting me from the criminal element."
    Danny101, MaXtor and dms96960 like this.
  3. R00sT3R

    R00sT3R TS Guru Posts: 166   +354

    This sounds like an AWESOME job...where do I apply.
    Reehahs, dms96960 and kombu like this.
  4. kombu

    kombu TS Addict Posts: 96   +188

    This is the type of people they hire to moderate content. No wonder I'm on my 8th account.
    dms96960 and davislane1 like this.
  5. Thayios

    Thayios TS Rookie

    Hmmmm, would you tell a veteran/mil the same thing? People will always think they can handle something until they can't, so at that point there are no take backs.
    Kibaruk likes this.
  6. If that veteran tried to sue the federal government for failing to provide a safe working environment on the premise that enemy combatants shoot back, yes.

    My point is that signing up for something dangerous and then suing because it's inherently dangerous is wrong. Signing the waivers that are required, agreeing that you will be exposed to dangerous things, and then trying to collect a payday because all of those things turned out to be true, is wrong.

    Emotional manipulation is wrong as well, but I'm immune to that tactic so we'll pretend it didn't happen.
    Adorerai, Reehahs and MaXtor like this.
  7. kombu

    kombu TS Addict Posts: 96   +188

    A real-life 2016 Meme War veteran. Thank you for your service.
    Dimitrios likes this.
  8. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,780   +1,166

    @Thayios hit the nail in the head, I think you are focusing on only one side of it, while not really seeing the big picture, the PTSD doesn't come from the lack of a safe working environment, nor is the class action suit for personal gain, if you actually read the article you would notice the following:
    And not a paycheck out of it as you so bluntly and coldly describe.
    I urge you to read Facebook's response:
    As a subworker for Facebook, the person in question and many others may have not received the support required to actually deal with the job at hand.
    Reehahs likes this.
  9. Did it not occur to you that I read the article and came to a different conclusion as to the merits of the lawsuit?

    First of all, and most importantly, there is no specific claim made against Facebook. Only that their psychological services are inadequate. Moreover, the entire complaint thus far is based on media reporting and no actual example of the plaintiff's job or failures on Facebook's end. This is mentioned briefly in the original Motherboard article, which I also read.

    Second, seeking a court's ruling to get free healthcare above what is already provided by both your employer (the firm Scola works for) and it's client (Facebook) is seeking a payday. Unless somehow no one is getting paid for providing said services?

    Going back to the veteran's example... It would me more adequate to compare this to a grievance against the VA. The key difference being the countless number of veterans left out to dry by the VA, countless examples of VA mismanagement, and the comparison to this case which demonstrates no mismanagement on the part of either company, no evidence of a systematic failure or oversight on the part of either company, and no specific claims of failures or shortcomings by anyone.

    What is absent here, and the reason I'm dismissing it, is because it is devoid of any specific details. It uses emotionally-charged keywords and sensational news reporting to establish justification.

    They even try to use an NDA to conveniently explain this away.

    "Well, you see, we haven't included any details because that would violate an NDA. We'll violate the NDA later on" (see the Motherboard article).

    When people do that, 9 times out of 10 something is fishy.

    Now, if they come out with specific details demonstrating a failure of Facebook to provide reasonable health services to their contractors, I'll happily change my tune. But I automatically call BS on any claim that's made absent evidence.
    Adorerai likes this.
  10. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,610   +595

    Meh that's like a embalmer suing the mortician.... its the job.
  11. what an excellent turn of phrase and very explanatory for today's world.
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,499   +5,065

    I'm surprised no one has commented with the following. Dealing with Facebook (or any other social network for that matter) in general will lead to PTSD. It is not the network, it is the diversity of people using it. And a large portion of them trying to piss on everyone else, or at least their parade.
  13. PcePce

    PcePce TS Enthusiast Posts: 79   +25

    Some people are trying really hard to make "PTSD" a meaningless term, like so many others of late.
  14. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 818   +324

    I used to watch a lot of horror movies. As they began getting more graphic in their realism, I just stop watching. The Hills Have Eyes was the first movie that turned me off. I could have allowed myself to become desensitize to it and push through. Coming from a religious upbringing, I could not, in good conscience, allow myself to view it, especially as entertainment and it's unnecessary. What's wrong with these creators? I sympathize with the soldiers in the military because they can't make that decision. They have to just mentally go to another place in order to deal with it. "Until you consider yourself already dead, you can't be a good soldier", Band of Brothers. No truer words than this. My hatred for those who cause needless wars and violence burns more brightly. Don't make me have to mentally go to another place. IMO PTSD is a combination of things. Empathy for those subjected to the violence. Guilt, in the inability to stop it and participating in it. Plagued, you can't un-see it, un-hear it, and un-feel it. Lost in your mental capacity to feel human for you have deadened your senses. When the whole debate came up years ago about violence in video games, it doesn't hold a candle to the level of violence on TV, movies, and in real life. But I imagine that it will get there as the technology allows. I already set my line. There was a time that I would dismiss these people because they didn't have to do the job. But somebody has to do it. And why the **** are there people who make it so somebody has to do it? Violence has always been here. It's nothing new. There's just seems to be more who revel in it, glorify it, and display it..
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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