Technology publication The Verge is reporting that a settlement is close in the United States in a legal action taken by a group of Facebook content moderators against the social media platform due to the conditions of their work.
The legal action began when, in late 2018, Selena Scola submitted a compensation claim against Facebook in California. She alleged that, as she was required to view various types of disturbing content to meet her daily targets during her nine months in the role, she developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The content that she was required to view included such graphic material as photos and videos of rape, murder, and suicide.
Legal representatives for Facebook and executives from the social media platform have, so far refused to comment on the case and the settlement which has been proposed, and is awaiting approval by a judge. There has been no indication of the scale of the settlement in the legal action from either side.
The outcome of this case will be of particular interest to those who have already submitted legal actions against Facebook in this jurisdiction. Chris Gray is a former content moderator for Facebook, he was contracted to a complete tasks for them when he was a registered worker with CPL solutions. Represented by Coleman Legal Partners, he filed his action in December 2020.
At the time he Mr Gray spoke seemingly “relentless flow of extreme and graphic material” along with the absence of support and sufficient training to assist those moderating the content in question. He said that this greatly impacted his mood and he was of the opinion that he would not be taken seriously if he spoke up about what he felt was a dire situation. At no time did he thing the issue would be handled in a calm and professional manner.
Facebook responded to his claims saying that “reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult. This is an important issue and we are committed to getting this right.”
Not long after Mr Gray submitted his legal action, the Financial Times published an expose in the duties of Facebook moderators employed by Accenture, an agency that supplies content moderation for many different social media platforms. It showed that content moderators said they were obligated to cast their eyes over some of the most disturbing video material possible including “sexual and animal abuse”.
Since these legal action were submitted a number of the external contracting agencies have asked current and new staff to sign disclaimers which state that they are aware of the working conditions that are facing them when the assume the role of content moderators. The disclosure forms, which Facebook is claiming it has nothing to do with, states that “no job is worth sacrificing my mental or emotional health”. You can read more here.
It will be interesting to see if Facebook moves to settle other cases in other jurisdictions around the globe once the legal action in the United States is given approval. If you are a current or former social media content moderator who has suffered due to working duties then you should contact a solicitor experienced with handing issues like this as soon as you can.