by Kyle Beard on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019
The role of a Facebook moderator is to review every post and picture that gets flagged on Facebook for its graphic violence, pornography, and hate speech. Journalist Casey Newton described to NPR about how repeated exposure to these disturbing posts has left Facebook modulators with mental health problems. It is up to Facebook modulators to do something about their mental health issues to ensure that they can continue going to work or find another line of work if they cannot handle it for much longer.
At a computer workstation, moderators click on a button that shows they are ready to review content. Then, they see a stream of texts, images, and videos. Some that they see could be words on a screen that someone did not like. Other posts that they see could be incredibly disturbing like beheadings, murders, animal abuse, and child exploitation on a moderator’s everyday shift. You can never prepare for what you might see next.
Moderators have reported to Newton that the content they have seen could haunt them for months or years after leaving their job. When they see posts of people or animals suffering, they cannot help but feel empathetic. Some have reported to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and have nightmares about what they saw. Eventually, many of them are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Seeing so many of these traumatic images on a daily basis can change your perspective of how dark and disturbing the world can be. It is also hard for modulators to know what the truth is when you see the same posts about people’s opinions on conspiracy theories. There is also anxiety in the workplace where moderators who have been fired have threatened to shoot up the office, causing other moderators to bring weapons for their own protection
Currently, the moderators get two 15-minute breaks, lunch for half an hour, and nine minutes of wellness time. Wellness time is when you get up and walk away from your desk where you can play ping pong, do yoga, or speak to a counselor. If moderators are to continue with their jobs, they need to focus on their mental health for more than half an hour or decide when it is time to leave.
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