In a somewhat concerning move content moderators for social media platforms, both new hires and existing staff, are being issued with a disclosure statement to complete which states that they are fully aware of the possibility that the content they must view as part of their duties may result in them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It has been reported by both The Financial Times and The Verge that Accenture – a professional services firm which is often used by Google, Facebook and Twitter – issued the forms to existing members of staff as an update and to new hires taking up moderator positions.
Accenture contractors are employed as external outside monitors for social media sites. They are typically given duties including deleting any inappropriate content. In order to accomplish this task they must view and hear disturbing posts of a violent or sexual nature. A normal day’s work would include these moderators considering the inappropriate nature of objectionable materials and looking over hundreds of disturbing images.
“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),” the statement read.
The notices were sent to Accenture employees in the United States and Europe. Accenture operates at least three content moderation offices for Facebook in Europe, including centres in Warsaw, Lisbon and Dublin, where workplace safety rules are some of the most stringent globally and include protections for mental health issues.
This is particularly worrying as it comes at a time when Facebook is preparing to face legal actions from former content moderators in relation to a variety of different mental health issues experienced in California and Ireland.
Reacting to the move made by Accenture, Facebook has issued a statement claiming that it was not asked to approve or review Accenture’s new form. However the statement did say that Facebook partners are required to provide psychological support for content moderators. Google – YouTube’s parent company – also moved to advise the public that it was not given the opportunity to look over the documents in question and also directs its partners to have in place mental health supports.
The forms were sent to the moderators and included details of support services that are provided by Accenture such as a hotline and a wellness coach. However these services are not managed by professionally trained experts as, according to Accenture they “cannot diagnose or treat mental disorders”.
Accenture issued a statement which said that the health and said the wellbeing of its contractors is was a “top priority”. It also said that only new joiners were being asked to sign the forms, whereas current employees were being sent the form as an update. The statement read: “We regularly update the information we give our people to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the work they do”.
It is of the utmost importance that social media moderators who are in receipt of this form should not sign any form like this without first consulting with a legal representative who is experienced in these matters.