Facebook Moderator: What I See Haunts My Dreams

Isabella Plunkett testified before an Irish parliamentary committee
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2021 2:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – An Irish parliamentary committee on Wednesday heard testimony from a Facebook moderator who said she wasn't quite sure what the non-disclosure agreement she signed left her "legally allowed to say and not to say," but the BBC has what she did reveal. Isabella Plunkett, who has been a moderator for two years, works for the company via major contractor Covalen. That's created a problem, she explained: Moderators employed by Facebook were permitted to work remotely due to the pandemic, but she was required to work from the office, where the "high priority queues" are worked, says Plunkett. "The graphic violence, the child stuff, the exploitation and the suicides, people working from home don't get that—the burden is put on us." She reviews about 100 tickets per day and says she isn't able to shake what she sees.

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"I could just be watching TV at home and think back to one of the horrible, really graphic tickets." Just the process itself is stress inducing, because moderators continually have to brace themselves for what could come. "You have to watch [the video] the full way through because they might have violators," she says. The experience has left her anxious and on antidepressants, she says. She said she is allotted 1.5 hours of "wellness" time each week in which she can take walks or meet with a wellness coach. Vice reports she holds those coaches in low estimation. "These people mean really well, but they're not doctors," she testified. "They suggest karaoke and painting. But sometimes you don't always feel like singing, frankly, after you've seen someone being battered to bits." The testimony came as the moderators seek an end to outsourced employment and NDAs and an elevated level of psychiatric care, reports the Irish Examiner. (Last year, moderators said they were being forced back to the office.)

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