Facebook content moderators in Europe and the United States are urging the firm to repeal unduly restrictive nondisclosure agreements that prevent employees from speaking out about their working circumstances. In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and the CEOs of Covalen and Accenture, moderators claim that these NDAs aren’t just for user data, and that they contribute to a culture of “excessive secrecy.”
The moderators add, “Despite the company’s best efforts to keep us silent, we write to demand that the company’s culture of fear and excessive secrecy end today.” “We cannot be legally prevented from speaking out about our working circumstances because of a nondisclosure agreement.”
The announcement comes as the company’s relationship with its contract content moderators in Ireland is deteriorating. Isabella Plunkett, a moderator, testified before a parliamentary committee in May, attempting to persuade lawmakers to modify the law.
“The regulated stuff is terrible,” she remarked. “It would have an impact on anyone… They provide us with wellness coaches to assist us. These people are well-intentioned, but they are not medical professionals. They advise karaoke and painting, but after seeing someone smashed to bits, one does not necessarily feel like singing.”
The corporation must provide moderators with regular access to clinical psychiatrists and psychologists, according to the letter. “Imagine being forced to watch hours of violent content or children being abused online on a daily basis,” they add. “You’re not going to get away with it. This job cannot jeopardize our mental health.”
Moderators also want to be brought in-house, claiming that they are treated as second-class citizens under the current system. They want the business to pay them the same as full-time Facebook moderators and provide them with the same perks.
There are presently 60 signatures on the letter from moderators in Dublin, Lisbon, and Barcelona, as well as areas of the United States. It was written in partnership with Foxglove, a UK-based tech-justice organization.
In a statement, Foxglove director Martha Dark wrote, “Facebook content moderators globally spend hard shifts slogging through a never-ending deluge of the worst filth on the internet.” “Yet, moderators don’t get proper, meaningful, clinical long-term mental health support; they’re forced to sign highly restrictive NDAs to keep quiet about what they’ve seen; and the vast majority of the workforce is hired through outsourcing companies, where they don’t get anywhere near the same support and benefits that Facebook provides to its own employees.”
Facebook pushed back against the notion that moderators don’t have access to mental health care in a statement. “We know that evaluating content can be a difficult job, which is why we partner with companies that provide training and psychological support to their employees when working with difficult content,” a spokeswoman said. “In Ireland, this includes on-site support from skilled practitioners 24 hours a day, an on-call service, and access to private healthcare from day one. We also make use of technology to minimize their exposure to graphic material to the greatest extent possible.”
Accenture does not provide clinical medical services, according to a spokesman, but employees do have access to other mental health resources. They stated, “We approach our people’s well-being in a holistic manner, with mental health being one part of assistance.” “While our wellness coaches are credentialed and trained to identify prevalent difficulties in this area, they do not provide clinical or medical services. On the other hand, our employee assistance program offers free mental health help, including access to professional and trained mental health counselors