Facebook is being taken to court by a California woman who previously worked for the company as a content moderator, as she claims the work caused her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reports Motherboard.
In her role as a contractor for Facebook through a company called Pro Unlimited, Selena Scola was tasked with identifying and removing content from the social platform that violated its Community Standards. That includes hate speech, images of graphic violence, self harm, bullying, and nudity and sexual content.
According to Scola’s lawyers, she developed PTSD as a result of “constant and unmitigated exposure to highly toxic and extremely disturbing images at the workplace.” They also alleged that Facebook doesn’t have proper mental health services and monitoring in place for its content moderators.
For its part, Facebook told Motherboard that it indeed provides mental health services to moderators at its own facilities and at those of its contractors. It also noted that it handles these concerns by addressing them during the training process, and by providing appropriate benefits and resources for mental wellness.
The dangers of content moderation for large-scale platforms like Facebook have been extensively documented, so the only thing surprising about this incident is that it’s taking place this far into the company’s lifetime. Microsoft faced a similar lawsuit last January.
It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out, as it could have wider implications for companies that require content moderators, and for those who take up these roles around the world. Facebook currently has some 7,500 people working to identify and remove objectionable material. According to Moneycontrol, it’s expected to grow that number to 20,000, and is currently hiring people through contractors in India with annual salaries ranging from $3,100 to $5,500.
Scola’s lawsuit demands the creation of a “Facebook-funded medical monitoring program to facilitate the diagnosis and aquate treatment of Plaintiff and the class for psychological trauma, including but not limited to PTSD.” The case will is yet to be evaluated and pushed through by a judge in California.
We’ve contacted Facebook to learn more and will update this post if there’s a response.