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Lawsuit: My Facebook Job Gave Me PTSD

Former moderator says company doesn't do enough to help workers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2018 6:21 AM CDT
Facebook faces a class-action suit from a former moderator.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – It is, by all accounts, a grueling job—poring over thousands of graphic Facebook posts to determine whether they cross the line. Now a woman who worked as such a moderator is suing the company because she says the job gave her PTSD, reports Motherboard. Selena Scola says Facebook doesn't do enough to help its approximately 7,500 content moderators cope with the stress of being exposed to the worst the internet has to offer, including "child abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, murder, and other forms of extreme violence," according to her lawsuit. Scola, who did the work for about eight months through a contractor, says that she has been formally diagnosed with the disorder, and that even touching a computer mouse or hearing a loud noise can trigger it, reports the Sacramento Bee.

"We recognize that this work can often be difficult," says a Facebook spokesperson, adding that the company has helped set industry standards to protect those who do it. The problem is that Facebook "ignores" those standards and "affirmatively requires its content moderators to work under conditions known to cause and exacerbate psychological trauma,” per the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status. One insider tells Motherboard that the lawsuit might sound far-fetched to anyone unfamiliar with the work, but provides an example: “Someone could be being graphically beaten in a video, and you could have to watch it a dozen times, sometimes with others present, while you decide whether the victim's actions would count as self-defense or not, or whether the aggressor is the same person who posted the video." Then it's on to the next video. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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