Casey Newton+ Your Authors @CaseyNewton I write The Interface. Get it by email: | [email protected] | instagram: @crumbler Jun. 19, 2019 1 min read + Your Authors

Today, three former Facebook content moderators are going on the record to talk about working conditions at their site in Tampa, FL.

Their office was filthy, and their work was grim. Last year, a moderator had a heart attack at his desk and died 

Two sexual harassment complaints have been filed at the site since April.

The office bathroom has regularly been found smeared with feces and menstrual blood.

Workers have found public hair and fingernails at their desks.

It’s a terrible environment for moderating content. And it helps explain why Tampa is Facebook’s lowest-performing content moderation site in North America.

It has never consistently hit the 98 percent accuracy target set for it by Facebook.

This job changes you. One man in this story talks about how he has struggled with PTSD since was laid off, with no support from the workplace that gave it to him.

15,000 people do this job for Facebook at any given time. How many will be diagnosed with PTSD when they leave?

These moderators’ voices are more powerful than any words I can write. We made a video in which they describe their daily lives and the long-term toll the job took on them: 

(Video by @PhilTEspo, @vjeranpavic, @andrumarino)

Facebook says it wants to improve its screening process to find more ‘resilient’ workers. It also wants to provide post-employment counseling to its moderators. I really hope it does, and soon — both moves would improve contractors’ standard of living across the industry.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll read this story and reflect on the human cost of keeping platforms like Facebook and Instagram safe for us to read. It has beautiful photos from @holowaty, illustrations from @velvetundergrad, design from @billiamjoel, and ace editing from @knguyen.

At some big tech companies, more than half the workforce is already contractors. NDAs typically prevent all but the worst stories from coming out.

My thanks to Shawn Speagle, Michelle Bennetti, and Melinda Johnson for having the courage to share their experiences.

You can follow @CaseyNewton.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.

Follow Threader