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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