What do making less than $29,000 a year, often being high at work and ending up with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have in common?
Well, according to a report from The Verge, that’s all in a day’s work for those who work as content moderators for Facebook.
Faced with ongoing levels of criticism over various types of content it puts before its users — and how users can get away with posting content that may promote violence, hate speech and bullying — Facebook has gone on the offensive and beefed up its army of content moderators. The company is estimated to have about half of its employees who work on safety and security dealing with the moderation of the site’s content.
But the situations in which many of those doing Facebook’s content moderation show an environment of high stress, low pay and constant demands upon employees’ psyches.
The Verge said it learned about Facebook’s content moderators’ work atmospheres by interviewing a dozen current and former employees of Cognizant, a company hired to provide Facebook with content development staff at a site in Phoenix. Among the situations described by those interviewed included a trainee having to watch a video of a man being stabbed repeatedly, then having to describe to a room a fellow trainees the reasons why the video violated Facebook’s community standards.
The stress of such workplace situations has led many content developers to have panic attacks at work, seek consolation from counselors who are said to be available for just a portion of workdays, and openly smoke marijuana outside their work facilities, according to the report.
Many of the content developers are said to have taken their jobs with the hope that they will eventually become full-time Facebook employees. For the time being, they aren’t being compensated anywhere near the level of a Facebook staffer. The Verge said the Phoenix content developers earn just $28,800 a year, while the average Facebook employee pay package equals $240,000 in salary, bonuses and stock options annually.