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Facebook content moderator says going through thousands of disturbing images gave her PTSD

The New York Daily News - 9/24/2018

Sept. 24--A former content moderator who worked on Facebook's website claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the thousands of deeply disturbing images and videos she was exposed to through her job, according to a new lawsuit.

Selena Scola's legal team contends in the lawsuit that Facebook ignored the safety standards that were put into place on behalf of content moderators, who are responsible for sifting through graphic content and deeming whether it needs to be removed.

"Every day, Facebook users post millions of videos, images, and livestreamed broadcasts of sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder," reads the lawsuit obtained by the Daily News, noting that content managers are employed by the social media conglomerate to cleanse the website.

"From her cubical in Facebook's Silicon Valley offices, Ms. Scola witnessed thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence," the court documents continue. "As another Facebook content moderator recently told The Guardian, 'You'd go into work at 9am every morning, turn on your computer and watch someone have their head cut off. Every day, every minute, that's what you see. Heads being cut off.'"

The lawsuit claims many companies have measures designed to prevent trauma for moderators, including offering counseling and changing the resolution of the sensitive content they're reviewing. But Facebook failed to live up to the safety measures that they implemented for moderators, the lawsuit charges.

"Instead, the multibillion-dollar corporation affirmatively requires its content moderators to work under conditions known to cause and exacerbate psychological trauma," the lawsuit reads.

In doing so, the suit alleges, the company is violating California law.

Scola was not directly employed by Facebook, but rather by the independent contractor Pro Unlimited. She reviewed Facebook's content in that role for nine months out of Facebook's offices, according to the lawsuit.

The legal filing contends Sosa, who left that role in March, suffers from both PTSD and "significant psychological trauma" as a result of her job.

The lawsuit names both Facebook and Pro Unlimited as defendants, and claims Facebook does not provide sufficient training for content moderators for how to deal with psychological trauma.

With the suit, Scola is aiming to protect herself and others in her position "from the dangers of psychological trauma resulting from Facebook's failure to provide a safe workplace for the thousands of contractors who are entrusted to provide the safest environment possible for Facebook users."

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


(c)2018 New York Daily News

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