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Facebook Ireland is in the process of being sued by a former content moderator due to the psychological injuries which he sustained of work being done as a moderator. The work included: “repeated and unrelenting exposure to extremely disturbing, graphic and violent content”.

Chris Gray instituted legal action against the Irish subsidiary of the ‘California tech giant’ in a European High court on Wednesday, this related to work for Facebook in Dublin in 2017 and 2018. CPL Solutions is also being sued through him, where he has been employed as a contractor. 

There had been over 15,000 employees working for Facebook, moderating content worldwide and distinguishing whether the content needed to be filtered or removed.

In the personal injury claim, he mentioned that it had been requested of him to view “very disturbing” content being photographs and videos, containing executions, lethal beatings, stonings, whippings, the abuse of children, animal torture and extreme sexual content; along with murders of Rohingya people in Myanmar.

THE CORRECT DECISION:

Although there had been a vast impact on the individuals relating to the content, they were faced with the pressure on making decisions as to what needed to be done with it; they had been left with 98% accuracy which had to be followed through on. He mentioned that over time, he had become extremely “numb and desensitized” which resulted in him becoming irritable, sensitive, argumentative and aggressive.

Mr. Gray had noticed, in his claim of legal proceedings that there was a “slow creep” as his “personal and political views were becoming increasingly influenced by the insidious content he was required to view”. He also mentioned that the work had an impact on his sleep as he would often dream about the content and was woken “with a fright, concerned not by the content, but by whether or not he had marked it correctly during his shift”.

Mr. Gray had claimed that the flow of material seemed relentless and that they had not been provided with accurate support and training. 

After a while, there had been a change in his demeanor and was not able to disclose any work-related issues to his superiors. Facebook spokeswomen stated: “reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult”, however, the job provided the necessary training and full-time support for the workers. They’ve also provided them with technical solutions which allows them to limit the graphic exposure; which to them is an “important issue” and they focus on getting it right. 

Training and support

The care of the employees was of importance to CPL Solutions and any concerns regarding them were taken seriously. The case of Mr. Gray is expected to be the first of many, and possibly a dozen other moderators suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dublin legal firm Coleman Legal Partners has been handling these cases. A director of Foxglove, Lawyer Cori Crider is a non-profit group that is supporting the Irish case against Facebook. She mentioned, “social media’s factory floor cleaned up”.“In a few years, we are going to look back on these conditions and see them the way that we now see early unsafe factory work in a steel mill or a meat-packing plant in the early 20th century,”

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