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Image credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

Former Facebook moderator sues over mental trauma

It reportedly doesn't do enough to treat mental scars.
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Reuters/Charles Platiau

Facebook's content moderators don't have an easy task. They often have to see the very worst of what people post, including graphic violence and sexual abuse. And while the social network has resources to help, at least one former worker doesn't believe that's enough. Ex-contractor Selena Scola has sued Facebook for allegedly "ignoring its duty" to protect moderators who deal with mental trauma after seeing disturbing imagery. Rather than create a safe environment, it's producing a "revolving door of contractors" who are permanently scarred by what they've seen, Scola's lawyer Korey Nelson said.

In a statement to Engadget, Facebook said it was "reviewing" the lawsuit and took moderator support "incredibly seriously" and pointed to its existing assistance, including "in house" psychological and wellness support as well as similar requirements for its third-party partners. You can read the full statement below.

The lawsuit emphasizes the fine line Facebook must walk to police content from billions of users. It needs thousands of human moderators to quickly take down policy-violating content that might otherwise slip through the cracks, but there's only so much those people can endure. Facebook has to balance between effectiveness and the mental well-being of its contractors, and this lawsuit suggests that it doesn't always get that balance right.

"We are currently reviewing this claim. We recognize that this work can often be difficult. That is why we take the support of our content moderators incredibly seriously, starting with their training, the benefits they receive, and ensuring that every person reviewing Facebook content is offered psychological support and wellness resources. Facebook employees receive these in house and we also require companies that we partner with for content review to provide resources and psychological support, including onsite counseling - available at the location where the plaintiff worked - and other wellness resources like relaxation areas at many of our larger facilities."

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