Former moderator sues YouTube after exposure to graphic footage left her with PTSD

midian182

Posts: 6,075   +50
Staff member
TL;DR: YouTube is being sued by a former content moderator who allegedly developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression after reviewing thousands of disturbing videos. It's claimed that the Google-owned company didn't do enough to protect the mental health of its moderators, who spend more than four hours every day reviewing graphic content.

The proposed class-action lawsuit is being brought by the same law firm— Joseph Saveri—that sued Facebook in 2018 on behalf of a moderator who said the lack of support she received caused her to develop PTSD. It won the suit, with the social network settling for $52 million.

As reported by CNET, YouTube is accused of violating California law by failing to provide a safe workplace for its content moderators. It allegedly never followed its own safety guidelines and did not offer enough support.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff worked for YouTube through a staffing agency at an office in Austin, Texas, from January 2018 to August 2019. Some of the videos she had to review during her time included people eating from a smashed open skull, child rape, suicide, bestiality, school shootings with dead children, a fox being skinned alive, and a person's head getting run over by a tank.

"She has trouble sleeping and when she does sleep, she has horrific nightmares. She often lays awake at night trying to go to sleep, replaying videos that she has seen in her mind," says the lawsuit. It adds that she can no longer be in crowded places, suffers panic attacks, has lost friends, has trouble being around kids, and is frightened to have children.

The suit also alleges that potential moderators weren't told about the negative impact the job could have on their mental health. And while they are told they can leave the room when being shown graphic content during training, people were concerned that doing so "might mean losing their job."

Counselors advised trainees to get enough sleep and exercise and take regular breaks during work, but "these promised breaks were illusory." One coach allegedly suggested the plaintiff take illegal drugs to cope with her symptoms, while another told a co-worker to "trust in God."

Moderators were regularly exposed to over four hours per day of graphic content—more than YouTube advises—due to understaffing, and were fearful of making complaints in case they were reported to management.

Content moderators suing over PTSD is nothing new—Microsoft faced a similar lawsuit in 2017. Earlier this year, it was revealed that a YouTube contractor was asking employees to sign a document acknowledging that the content they would be reviewing may be disturbing and could lead to PTSD.

"Content Moderators were left with a Hobbesian's choice -- quit and lose access to an income and medical insurance or continue to suffer in silence to keep their job," the lawsuit states.

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R00sT3R

Posts: 298   +705
I'm surprised this is based in the US, TBH.

Some of those things being described are truly horrific and I don't care how tough you think you are, watching nightmare stuff like that everyday must take a toll on you, and if it doesn't I'd say you're a pretty damaged individual to begin with.

Haven't Facebook farmed this out overseas, to places like the Philippines, where there is virtually no chance of them being sued in a similar manner by mostly very poor people, doing the same job?
 
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Gypsygib

Posts: 78   +61
I bet the job description and employment contract specifically mentioned that she would be exposed to very graphic and highly disturbing content of an extremely violent/sexual nature and she was like, "yeah, I can totally handle that", thinking, Sweet, I got a job at Youtube.

Companies really need to change their hiring practices - people that are very talented at interviews are just the best bull-shitters, not necessarily loyal or dedicated employees. You don't want to have to deal with a highly talented bull-shitter because they can bring BS law suits like this one. Even worse were the counselors though, but they too were probably highly skilled BS artists to get the job.

When you ask why do you want to work here and the person says because I really need a job and would love to have a career at X company as it would be a major opportunity for me in my life, maybe don't treat that as a bad answer from a desperate person, treat it as a person that actually would be grateful to work for you and would be highly dedicated, hardworking and appreciative. BS artists can easily get another job and don't appreciate the opportunity to work for you. Most people with similar skill sets can learn the job - loyalty and job appreciation should be way more highly valued but it's viewed negatively as desperate. Hire a person that doesn't think your company is fungible because they can work anywhere else because they have a vast network of connections.
 
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Privery

Posts: 102   +51
Its the internet which is almost harsher than the real world you always need to be prepared.
 

Prosercunus

Posts: 292   +138
I'm surprised this is based in the US, TBH.

Some of those things being described are truly horrific and I don't care how tough you think you are, watching nightmare stuff like that everyday must take a toll on you, and if it doesn't I'd say you're a pretty damaged individual to begin with.

Haven't Facebook farmed this out overseas, to places like the Philippines, where there is virtually no chance of them being sued in a similar manner by mostly very poor people, doing the same job?
This isn't true at all. People can cope with visuals differently from other people, doesn't mean you are heartless or "damaged". Some people simply have better mechanisms when coping with trauma in general.

It's the reason why not every single combat vet has PTSD.
 
Leftist, snowflake, talented bull-shitter(you know you are out there). What do you expect you need to do to review and filter contents? geez. And of course, a Texas lawsuit.
 

kimo1

Posts: 119   +193
This reminds me of soldiers. You have two functions: kill or get killed. If you haven't done either yet, you're lucky to have been spared. War is not Counter Strike where you respawn. People who have been to war, never want to go back. All the haha stops when you see your friend turn into a red mist, and doesn't respawn. This is what you signed up for. That's why very young people are taken. Foolish young with their primitive desire to show who's the alpha. Don't know when to give up.
 

Endymio

Posts: 621   +514
That's why very young people are taken. Foolish young with their primitive desire to show who's the alpha....
It might also have something to do with their ability to carry a 150-lb rucksack on a ten-mile hike. Not a lot of 60-year olds who can do that.
 
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nnguy2

Posts: 129   +223
All these people making fun of people for getting pstd from gruesome videos... But ask them to put a mask on and "waaaaah I'm being oppressed... Waaaah"
 
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Irata

Posts: 870   +1,238
TechSpot Elite
I bet the job description and employment contract specifically mentioned that she would be exposed to very graphic and highly disturbing content of an extremely violent/sexual nature and she was like, "yeah, I can totally handle that", thinking, Sweet, I got a job at Youtube.

Companies really need to change their hiring practices - people that are very talented at interviews are just the best bull-shitters, not necessarily loyal or dedicated employees. You don't want to have to deal with a highly talented bull-shitter because they can bring BS law suits like this one. Even worse were the counselors though, but they too were probably highly skilled BS artists to get the job.

When you ask why do you want to work here and the person says because I really need a job and would love to have a career at X company as it would be a major opportunity for me in my life, maybe don't treat that as a bad answer from a desperate person, treat it as a person that actually would be grateful to work for you and would be highly dedicated, hardworking and appreciative. BS artists can easily get another job and don't appreciate the opportunity to work for you. Most people with similar skill sets can learn the job - loyalty and job appreciation should be way more highly valued but it's viewed negatively as desperate. Hire a person that doesn't think your company is fungible because they can work anywhere else because they have a vast network of connections.
Totally agree with you regarding the hiring practices but most of the time it‘s done by HR, so 🤷‍♂️

 
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maroon1

Posts: 11   +13
Spoiled woman. Nobody forced her to do this job

Maybe youtube should hire a tough hearted man to do the job instead of these women who nag and complain about every small thing and want easy money without putting too much effort
 
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mgwerner

Posts: 90   +74
That's like a Muslim driver applying for and working as a bacon delivery man. You knew what you were getting into. And if you did not, you are probably too stupid to have the job.