Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year that remote working will become permanent for many Facebook employees. Most of its content moderators, however, are contract workers, not Facebook employees—and they say the company is risking their lives. In an open letter to Zuckerberg and execs at Accenture and CPL, which Facebook subcontracts moderating to, Engadget reports moderators in the US and Europe say they are being forced back to the office after months working from home. They say workers with a doctor's note about personal COVID risk are being allowed to remain home, but not those with a high-risk family member. The moderators say they are dismayed at the "decision to risk our lives—and the lives of our colleagues and loved ones—to maintain Facebook’s profits during the pandemic."
The moderators, who are asking Facebook to maximize at-home working, end outsourcing, offer hazard pay, and provide "real healthcare and psychiatric care," say they had Facebook's "most brutal job" even before the pandemic, NPR reports. "We waded through violence and child abuse for hours on end," they write. They say they are being called back to the office now because Facebook, without informing users, "undertook a massive live experiment in heavily automated content moderation" that did not work out. "Without our work, Facebook is unusable. Its empire collapses," they write. "Your algorithms cannot spot satire. They cannot sift journalism from disinformation. They cannot respond quickly enough to self-harm or child abuse. We can." (In May, Facebook agreed to pay moderators $52 million for psychological damages.)