About 200 Facebook moderators have written an open letter to CEO,Mark Zuckerberg, citing unsafe working conditions. The moderators from the US and Europe said that the company was risking their lives by forcing them to work from the offices despite the imposed lock downs in their countries.
“We, the undersigned Facebook content moderators and Facebook employees, write to express our dismay at your decision to risk our lives — and the lives of our colleagues and loved ones — to maintain Facebook’s profits during the pandemic,” reads the letter.
Facebook outsources most of its content moderation to third party companies like Accenture and CPL in different countries. This is a bulk of the company’s work as it is constantly on the edge battling questionable posts, photos and videos.
The recently concluded US elections was also a real test to the platform with more people pushing for content moderation ahead of the elections.
“After months of allowing content moderators to work from home, faced with intense pressure to keep Facebook free of hate and disinformation, you have forced us back to the office.”
The moderators also demanded that Facebook should let them work from home, offer hardship benefits, end outsourcing and provide comprehensive psychiatric and health-care.
“Before the pandemic, content moderation was easily Facebook’s most brutal job,” reads the letter. “We waded through violence and child abuse for hours on end. Moderators working on child abuse content had targets increased during the pandemic, with no additional support.”
The letter was also addressed to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet and CPL CEO Anne Heraty.
“Now, on top of work that is psychologically toxic, holding onto the job means walking into a hot zone. In several offices, multiple COVID cases have occurred on the floor. Workers have asked Facebook leadership, and the leadership of your outsourcing firms like Accenture and CPL, to take urgent steps to protect us and value our work. You refused. We are publishing this letter because we are left with no choice.”
Facebook moderators at CPL are reportedly forced to work from Dublin despite a lock down currently in effect. Facebook’s direct employees however, have been working from home. In fact, the company announced in September that it would let its employees work from home through 2021.
The outsourced moderators are also paid significantly less compared to the Facebook employees. In the letter, they said that Facebook’s AI is unable to detect all threats in breach of their policies.
“Without our work, Facebook is unusable,” the letter continues. “Its empire collapses. Your algorithms cannot spot satire. They cannot sift journalism from disinformation. They cannot respond quickly enough to self-harm or child abuse. We can.”
“Facebook needs us. It is time that you acknowledged this and valued our work. To sacrifice our health and safety for profit is immoral.”
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is yet to respond to the letter, however a spokesperson from the company said that they believe in an open, internal, honest dialogue.
“The majority of these 15,000 global content reviewers have been working from home and will continue to do so for the duration of the pandemic.”
The spokesperson added: “All of them have access to health care and confidential wellbeing resources from their first day of employment, and Facebook has exceeded health guidance on keeping facilities safe for any in-office work.”
CPL and Accenture are yet to respond to the letter.