Facebook content moderators demand better coronavirus protections

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Illustration from article titled Facebook Entrepreneurs Say Company Risks Life for Pandemic Profit

Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / Contributor (Getty Images)

In May 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic fully underway, PDG de Facebook Mark Zuckerberg ad that the company would allow most of its employees to continue working from home until at least the end of the year in an effort to “contain the spread of Covid-19 so that we can keep our communities safe and get back to work soon. “

But it’s the same luxury was apparently not extended to the fleet of thousands of contract workers Facebook employs to moderate harmful content on the platform, and on Wednesday, 200 of those workers sent a open letter to senior executives in the company who object to the way they have been treated.

Addressed to Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, as well as the CEOs of outsourcing companies Accenture and Covalen, the letter accuses Facebook of compromising the health and safety of its contractors and their loved ones in order ” to maintain Facebook’s profits during the pandemic. “

“After allowing content moderators to work from home for months, in the face of intense pressure to keep Facebook free from hate and misinformation, you forced us to return to the office,” the letter read. “Moderators who obtain a doctor’s note on a personal risk of COVID have been exempted from attending in person. Moderators with vulnerable loved ones, who could die if they contract COVID from us, have not.

As is, there have already been COVID outbreaks in several Facebook offices, with workers in Ireland, Germany, Poland and the United States testing positive for the virus.

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And according to the writers, the threat of infection adds to an already psychologically workload punishment – the one that led Facebook to pay some $ 52 million to US-based entrepreneurs last spring for their trauma. suffered at work:

Before the pandemic, content moderation was arguably Facebook’s most brutal job. We went through violence and child abuse for hours. Moderators working on child abuse content saw their goals increase during the pandemic, without additional support.

Now, in addition to psychologically toxic work, hanging on to work means stepping into a hot zone. In several offices, several cases of COVID have occurred on the floor. The workers have asked the executives of Facebook and the executives of your outsourcing companies like Accenture and CPL to take urgent action to protect us and to value our work. You refused. We are publishing this letter because we have no choice.

Along with the ability to work from home, the letter’s signatories also list a number of other requests, including an option to receive a risk premium and a call to end outsourcing and bring content moderators into action. internally so that they can receive health care and other benefits.

The letter sparked a response from Facebook, with the company quickly arguing that the majority of the 15,000 content reviewers it employs have continued to work from home during the pandemic and reiterates that it is putting in “wellness resources.” available to its employees.

“Even though we believe in open internal dialogue, these discussions must be honest,” Facebook spokesman Toby Partlett told the New York Times in a report. “Facebook has exceeded the facility health and safety guidelines for all office work.”

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