Mental Health

Facebook Moderators See Such Awful Content They're Experiencing PTSD-Like Symptoms

The people responsible for keeping Facebook clear of violent or illegal content have been found to be suffering from PTSD-like symptoms and extreme stress due to their job. 

A report by The Verge's Casey Newton published Monday highlights the challenges at workplace that have been negatively affecting content moderators of the social media giant. 

The nearly 7,500-word report shows that Facebook's moderators commonly face tough working conditions and receive low pay for their jobs that contributed to stress, with some employees breaking down due to the content they were reviewing. The findings come from the analysis of employee health at a content moderation workplace in Arizona.

Such workers handle objectionable or illegal material on Facebook, including racism, graphic violence and images of child abuse. Newton interviewed a number of sources who claimed that due to workplace stress, some moderators smoked weed during the workday and even had sex in the office for "trauma bonding." 

Some employees also developed PTSD-like symptoms, while others appeared radicalized by conspiracy-theory content.

Amid the stressful tasks and environment, Facebook paid its employees less than $29,000 annually, far less than the median salary of a full-time employee, which could reach $240,000. In a separate report by Business Insider, two content moderators at Facebook confirmed getting paid relatively low salaries.

"Half my pay goes to rent practically," said one of the moderators, who receives less than $28,000 a year. “I can't even afford to take on car payments or [pay] my student loans."

Another employee also highlighted the challenges in their working conditions, noting “this job is inhumane with extremely low wages.” 

"I have no doubt the content has consumed some people, especially those working in specific content queues that may contain more graphic images/videos, and or dealing with child exploitation,” the Facebook moderator said. “I also don't blame the ones who probably need to smoke during their breaks."

Facebook Vice President of Global Operations Justin Osofsky issued a memo on Monday, saying the company is reviewing the issues. 

"We've done a lot of work in this area and there's a lot we still need to do," he said. "We will regularly evaluate these roles, our needs going forward, the risks, location, mix of the workforce and many more areas."