YouTube content moderators are being asked to sign a document acknowledging the job could...

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Former employees from major tech giants including Facebook and Microsoft have come forward in recent years with lawsuits claiming they developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after viewing disturbing content while serving as content moderators. YouTube doesn’t want to be next.

According to interviews with employees and documents obtained by The Verge, a content moderation contractor for YouTube by the name of Accenture is now asking employees to sign a document acknowledging that the content they will be reviewing may be disturbing and could impact their mental health.

“It could even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” the document, titled “Acknowledgement,” reads. It was distributed to employees on December 20 via DocuSign, The Verge notes.

Signees agree to tell their supervisor or go to HR if they believe the work is negatively impacting their mental health. Employment law experts The Verge spoke to said this could be an illegal requirement.

“I would think it’s illegal to force an employee to disclose any sort of disability to you,” said Alreen Haeggquist, an employee rights attorney based in California.

Support services available to employees, per the PTSD form, include a wellness coach, a hotline to call and the human resources department.

Accenture said signing the document is voluntary although two current employees told The Verge that they were threatened with being fired if they refused to sign.

The Verge said it was unsure how common it is for content moderators to get PTSD. “From my own interviews with more than 100 moderators over the past year, it appears to be a significant number,” said reporter Casey Newton. “And many other employees develop long-lasting mental health symptoms that stop short of full-blown PTSD, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia.”

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Lionvibez

TS Evangelist
“I would think it’s illegal to force an employee to disclose any sort of disability to you,” said Alreen Haeggquist, an employee rights attorney based in California.

So if I'm hiring someone for work that can cause issues with certain preexisting conditions a person may have its illegal for me to ask them?
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Even a terrible lawyer will tell you that an acknowledgement does not alleviate the employers responsibilities, in fact if their medical coverage does not include specific coverage for PTSD they can increase their liability considerably.
 
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arrowflash

TS Booster
Makes me wonder whether these PTSD claims are legit or not. If we lived in sane times I'd be quick to call bullshit but with our society becoming more similar to Stallone's "Demolition Man" every day, I don't know.

On the other hand, Accenture (a relatively significant tech sector employer in one of the cities I've lived) is pretty well known for not treating their workers as human beings. I've personally talked with people who worked there.
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
Who knows what kind of videos people try to upload.... Moderators have to decide if it's illegal. Submit it to the police and try to forget about it. Considering you can access YT behind a proxy or VPN, /shudder. It's not just snarky comments....

OMG someone could totally make a movie out of it, instead of the alcoholic cop bring his work home with him cliche. How about some moderator taking down videos of people chopping off heads n such...

Even a south park parody would be funny if you wanted to hit on the humor side and make it about snarky comments. Moderator reads "Your a noob!", hit delete, takes a shot of whiskey lol.
 
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Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
I'm puzzled. It sounds to me that Accenture is trying to throw light on a dark corner. If a worker has a significant workplace injury, his super should send him for a free medical check at full pay. Shouldn't mental health be handled similarly - especially in a highly stressful occupation? Or, do we wait until an employee celebrates 'bring a gun to work' day?
 

MarkHughes

TS Maniac
Even a south park parody would be funny if you wanted to hit on the humor side and make it about snarky comments. Moderator reads "Your a noob!", hit delete, takes a shot of whiskey lol.
They did something similar in SouthPark, They had Butters screening all the hate from the stuff people where saying about Cartman.

Season 19 Episode 5 "Safe Space"
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
If they think that is bad, they need a few weeks as an EMT. I doubt more time will be needed. I don't see how those guys can do what they do....
Yeah well, maybe Google could do something constructive like hiring vets. You know, the guys who have had a leg blown off, or watched their best friend step on a landmine. I'll bet whatever crap YouTube has to censor,. wouldn't hold a candle to what those guys have seen.