In the United States, Facebook has agreed, as part of a preliminary settlement filed last Friday in California’s San Mateo Superior Court, to pay $52 million to existing and former content moderators for their platform as compensation for the psychological suffering they endured as a result of the material they had to view and the work targets they had to make. 

The affected content moderators that will be compensated were employed since 2015 at locations in the United States including California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. Final approval is due later in 2020 after a period of time is allowed for those who participated in the class action to comment on the proposed settlement and request any changes.

Coleman Legal are currently representing a number of former Facebook content moderators in a similar legal action in Ireland, many of whom were employed by external vendors including CPL. This legal action claims that the content moderators experienced psychological trauma due to unacceptable work conditions and inadequate support systems to allow employees to manage the stressful nature of the position and the often quite graphic content they had to review.

Partner at Coleman Legal. Dave Coleman said: “The recent developments in some States of the United States are to be welcomed. The acknowledgements from Facebook that seem to be contained in the proposed Settlement are an important first step taken by Facebook in this case.  We hope to see clarity soon with regard to the issue of outsourced workers who carried out commercial content Moderation for Facebook. In the meantime the Irish cases, on behalf of European Commercial Content Moderators continue to be progressed before the Irish Courts and further comment at this time would be inappropriate.”

The ruling in the U.S. finally acknowledges the extreme conditions associated with social media moderation. In addition to the preliminary settlement agreement Facebook have revealed that it will be providing additional counselling for those carrying out content moderation duties on their platform going forward..

The terms of the proposed settlement state in the US states that every moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000. However, a content moderator may request additional compensation if they are found to be suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions. Anyone who is diagnosed with a mental health condition is entitled to claim up to $1,500 more, and people who receive multiple concurrent diagnoses — PTSD and depression, for example — could be eligible for compensation up to $6,000. Along with this compensation, which is intended to be used for medical treatment, moderators with a qualifying diagnosis will be entitled to submit evidence of other injuries they experienced during their time at Facebook and could receive up to $50,000 in compensation.

In total the preliminary settlement includes 11,250 facebook content moderators. However, the exact number sums of compensation paid out to each individual will vary depending on how many members of the class action that apply for benefits.

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