On Friday, Facebook content moderators in Dubin, Ireland and members of Foxglove, a technology activist group that has assisted to organize content moderators, by holding a press conference on YouTube following a meeting with the country’s deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Leo Varadkar, to make their concern known on the working conditions at the company while presenting demands for improvement.
Over the past years, content moderators all around the digital economy have actually been the victim of handling the invisible labor necessary for daily functions.
At Facebook, their viewing and screening/inspecting harmful content is crucial to the survival of the platform, however content moderators are treated differently from other employees in the company. Moderators are often on contract-basis instead of being fully employed.
They are outsourced, underpaid, prompted to sign limiting non-disclosure agreements, and provided with inadequate mental health support for the kind of content they’re compelled to view daily.
Ibrahim Halawa, one of the content moderators who was in the press conference, an ex political prisoner who has been working at Facebook since he was released from prison in Egypt in 2017, said that other moderators are afraid of confrontation if they are seen criticizing a job that has actually compelled them “sign away their life once they start.”
In Ireland, workers have been been pressuring Covalen, a major outsourcing client with Facebook, to allow them to work from home during the pandemic, since Facebook has granted other staff the pandemic and content moderators at the start.
Leaked audio has shown that at a point when content moderators were asked to resume in the office in fall 2020, there was this expression of fear and anger that Facebook employees who do the same job were actually allowed to work from home.
Facebook made this same move also in India, where about 35,000 content moderators were asked to go back to the office while other employees and in-house staff were granted remote work.
Paria Mosfeghi, another content moderator for Facebook who had been with the company for many years, had voiced same issue out at the press conference, also in her meeting with Varadakar.
At the meeting, the content moderators charged Varadkar to support their efforts realizing equal treatment, access to better care, and an end to a culture of retaliation and privacy.
Some months back, Varadkar has been said to be open to give worker support needed and reached out to Facebook, spoke with Head of Policy, Nick Clegg, as content moderators were waiting for months for their own meeting.
“By voicing out for many of their fellow moderators all across the globe, Ibrahim and Paria have done something heroic today, however the fact is that they ought not have to be heroes,” Cori Crider, Foxglove director, who was also in the meeting, stated.
The moderators argued that if their work is truly so crucial, it needs to be treated as such