According to reports in the US and the UK, Social media content moderators working for Accenture, a professional services company that provides external professional services globally, has requested that new employees and current members of staff sign disclosure and update agreements. These forms state that the moderators are aware that the content they must view as part of the duties may result in them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Accenture contractors are hired to work as external moderators for social media sites including Facebook and YouTube. Their tasks include removing all inappropriate content by viewing and listening to what may be inappropriate posts. A typical day’s tasks work would include examining disturbing images and videos. News articles in the Financial Times and The Verge indicate that the disclosure statement is worded as follows: “I understand the content I will be reviewing may be disturbing. It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
Facebook is currently facing a number of legal actions, initiated by former social media content moderators, in relation to the PTSD they are suffering from due to the content they had to view. Already compensation actions have been filed in United States and Ireland.
Existing social content moderators were sent the disclosure statement in the form of an update. There are three content moderation offices operated by Accenture for Facebook in Europe based in Warsaw, Lisbon and Dublin. Due to the fact that these offices are based in the European Union they are subject to some of the most restrictive workplace safety rules in the world.
The form says that “no job is worth sacrificing my mental or emotional health” and that “this job is not for everyone” and seems to imply that individual who may experience mental health issues due to work might not be a good match for the role with Accenture. The statement does include anything to indicate that Accenture will, as required by federal legislation in the US, take care of anyone who suffers due to their work duties.
Since Accenture sent out the disclosure agreements, Facebook and Google have released statements which state that they were not asked to give their approval for it. However, they added that it is a condition of their contracts with professional service partners that there be psychological support in place for social media content moderators. In the disclosure agreement Accenture listed available support services including a hotline and a wellness coach. However, the services in question are not conducted by professional staff and Accenture also said that they “cannot diagnose or treat mental disorders” but that they (Accenture) holds the wellbeing of its contractors as a “top priority”.
Social media moderators should consult with an experienced solicitor before that sign this statement.