There are over 1,50,000 employees working in-house and in agency settings across the world. I’d never heard of them before. The numbers are an estimate, it’s been a secretive profession, till scathing articles on mental health issues of employees came forward.
Not too long ago, an article by theVerge exposed the working conditions of content moderators in America. ‘The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America’ provides gory details of employees’ terrible mental health problems and work environment.
What do Content Moderators (CM) do? They save the weak and the vulnerable from confronting HORRIFYING content online. They monitor submissions to online platforms based on a set of rules.
A recent article on the Intercept, TikTok Told Moderators: Suppress Posts by the “Ugly” and Poor, revealed shocking details about a content moderation policy enforced by TikTok. Their spokesperson without getting specific, responded saying that ‘most of’ of the points in the policy were either changed earlier or never in use.
An excerpt from the article; “Under this policy, TikTok moderators were explicitly told to suppress uploads from users with flaws both congenital and inevitable. “Abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” dwarfism, and “obvious beer belly,” “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and many other “low quality” traits are all enough to keep uploads out of the algorithmic fire hose. Videos in which “the shooting environment is shabby and dilapidated,” including but “not limited to … slums, rural fields” and “dilapidated housing” were also systematically hidden from new users, though “rural beautiful natural scenery could be exempted,” the document notes.”
Too much for an ordinary weekday? Things have gotten worse with the pandemic. With CM employees in a lockdown because of the virus; AI is failing to do the job.
Sarah Roberts, in an interview, detailed about the content moderation industry.
To know about the different types of Content Moderation, read this article from Social Media Today
I am still reading about the industry, and find it hard to believe that such a critical profession is treated as a back-office job. Isn’t this a need of the hour with all forms of content blowing up the internet?
The tech media is doing a great job reporting on such practices. As we discover more on the industry, I am hoping better sense will prevail in solving the various issues, mental or otherwise, that need to be addressed on an immediate basis.