Facebook moderators call working conditions ‘mental torture’ — Analysis

The social media giant’s African hub moderators earn $1.50 per hour while working ‘dayAnd night,’ Time magazine has revealed

Facebook’s content moderators in Africa are among the social media giant’s lowest paid staff, but must deal with disturbing content that creates a kind of “mental torture” and “trauma,”Time magazine published an investigation last week.

The US tech giant has outsourced content moderation in all of sub-Saharan Africa to a company named ‘Sama’ that operates an office on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. This building is home to hundreds of workers. “day and night,”Time. 

Sama refers to itself as a company which provides services. “dignified digital work”It claims that it has lifted more than 50k people out of poverty in the developing world.

It also has agreements with US tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Walmart.

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Since 2019, the Nairobi office has been the center of Facebook’s moderation in sub-Saharan Africa. There are staff who review illegal content and take it down before regular Facebook users. According to Time, the content contains videos that depict murders and rapes as well as child sexual abuse. 

“The work that we do is a kind of mental torture,”Time interviewed Sama’s one remaining employee. It was reported that at least two moderators had resigned following being diagnosed with mental illness, including anxiety and depression. “Many others”According to the outlet, they could not get a formal diagnosis due to their inability to access mental health services. 

Sama employs “wellness counselors,”Time heard from employees that they were unsure of the competence and that their requests are not being met. “wellness breaks”They were sometimes denied out of fear that they might affect productivity. 

A workplace culture that is characterized by “mental trauma, intimidation, and alleged suppression of the right to unionize,”Time stated that the Nairobi office workers are among the lowest paid Facebook employees worldwide. 

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“Whatever I am living on is hand-to-mouth. I can’t save a cent,”One employee stated. Sama executives also stopped a planned strike in Nairobi by moderators demanding improved working conditions and pay in 2019. They fired the strike leader. Sama told workers that they were “expendable.”Company denies that any labor strike has taken place. 

Facebook does periodically send its own employees to Nairobi to monitor Sama’s operations, Time said. It added, however that stories submitted by Sama workers were not confidential. “raise serious questions about whether Facebook… is exploiting the very people upon whom it is depending to ensure its platform is safe.”

Facebook has over 15,000 content managers around the world. They are mostly hired by third-party companies like Sama. Responding to Time’s questions, the US tech giant said that it takes its “responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously”and its partners “provide industry-leading pay, benefits and support.”

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