Monday, February 25, 2019

A Peek Under Facebook's Rug?

There's an old saw about people sweeping dirt under the rug when they do a quick and not necessarily good job of cleaning.   Well, CNBC reports that some Facebook content reviewers are so stressed out by what they see and hear that they are developing symptoms of PTSD, or starting to believe conspiracy theories about 9/11 or the Las Vegas mass shooting.  Reviewers reportedly used drugs or alcohol at work to find relief from their stress, or had sex in bathrooms or a lactating room to escape.  One even said he brought a gun to work in order to protect himself from other employees who made him feel threatened.  See  These reviewers, employees of a contractor hired by Facebook, work for wages around $15 an hour to screen violence, threats, hate, and other extreme stuff.  Facebook's contractor says it offers counseling and other assistance to employees.

Is it any wonder Russian government intelligence operatives can use Facebook to undermine American democracy?  Is it any wonder hate groups and other weirdos can use Facebook to promote all manner of sick and extreme views?  Facebook's algorithms can't stop this stuff.  Evidently, Facebook's human reviewers, paid what many consider barely a living wage, can sometimes become so stressed they aren't really able to cope with the job.  So they probably aren't stopping it, either. 

No website is better than its content.  Facebook evidently struggles to control its content.  If its content reviewers can develop PTSD or resort to alcohol, drugs or sex in the lactating room to cope, what reaction might Facebook's users (especially its young users) have to such content?  It may be that so much content is uploaded so fast to Facebook that it cannot truly screen out the bad.  Then again, no website is irreplaceable.  Whatever excuse Facebook may offer for its content problems, no one needs to use it.  The rest of the Internet is a pretty big place, and you're the only person stopping you from exploring it.    

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