How can I delete the Cognizant interviews

Inexpensive Trauma: Disturbing Revelations About Facebook's Content Managers

The work of the content managers who have to check the content on Facebook is hardly bearable for many. Executions, rape and murder are commonplace for them, and mental health problems and depression are not uncommon. Although their work for the digital society and the company Facebook is important and at the same time incredibly demanding, the managers of companies engaged by Facebook often earn only a fraction of the salaries of Facebook employees. They also have to go through a tough school. The other side of the once dazzling medal of the social network offers undreamt-of shadows.

Content manager for Facebook: gloomy prospects for employees

Facebook has over two billion users and countless content, the spectrum of which ranges from informative to cute to horrific. Almost 15,000 content moderators or managers around the world are working meticulously to discover and delete this content so that content that obviously violates Facebook's guidelines but still reaches the platform can be removed as quickly as possible. But this job is unreasonable from many perspectives.

An exclusive and detailed report by Casey Newton at The Verge presents the work and even the life of such employees in a frightening light. It becomes clear that the content managers have to carry out extremely stressful psychological work that repeatedly exceeds limits. They are employed by companies that pay them low wages. These have even less effect in the context of the earnings on Facebook itself. And the pressure doesn't just come from the horrors they see every day. Your employers hardly give you any breaks, hardly any psychological support and you can be fired if you make a few mistakes. This pressure is compensated by bitter sarcasm or the consumption of marijuana. And some employees report that they gradually believe the conspiracy theories, etc., from the videos to be the truth.

In order to ensure that Facebook can continue to operate its dominant social platform lucratively and not scare off advertising partners, users and the like, inappropriate content must be minimized. But because this is done inexpensively and with a focus on efficiency, this process runs at the expense of the employed content manager.

Low salary and strictest rules in the USA

The Verge report reveals information about some employees of the company Cognizant, which is responsible for content management for Facebook, for example in Arizona. Just comparing salaries to Facebook employees is sobering. Cognizant employees receive $ 28,800 annually; the average salary for employees on Facebook, including bonuses, is $ 240,000 per year.

© Statista

But it is not just the bad pay that makes this unique job so precarious. It is the sum of the circumstances. Newton reports on an employee who is being trained for the role of content manager. After watching a video of the killing of a man pleading for mercy during training, she can barely get her nerves under control. A part-time chaplain simply tells her that she can watch or stop the videos without sound. She could do the job despite her panic attack. Actually, such details should not be made public, because employees have to sign an agreement prohibiting them from discussing their job at Cognizant; or to mention that it relates to Facebook. Now, however, the information has been made public - and is causing outrage.

Up to 220 violence videos per day are checked by the employees, thousands of decisions per week are pending. Severed heads alternate with sex with animals or denial of the Holocaust. And even a small number of mistakes can lead to dismissal. In addition, the breaks - including going to the toilet - are strictly monitored and timed; there is no time for a sideline conversation. A browser extension reveals whether the employee is leaving their place. And the number of toilets for hundreds of employees is severely limited. In order to distance themselves from the content, but also from the immense pressure, many employees smoke marijuana; that numbs them to some extent. Even so, many content managers suffer from mental disorders, sometimes showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Die ZEIT came to this conclusion in 2016 when they reported on Arvato, the company that employs people in Germany to review content for Facebook.

The traumatic experiences and the extraordinarily demanding work situation meanwhile cause strange developments in the content manager teams. Cited by Newton as “trauma bonding”, employees have already had sex in the stairwell or in washrooms reserved for mothers, which should surround them with human warmth in the context of blunt violence and horrors. Other employees deal with the questionable content in such a way that they adapt it more and more. In the meantime, Holocaust deniers or so-called Flat Earthers also work in the content management teams.

Many employees assume that the job inevitably leads to mental problems or even psychological stress disorders in the long run. The sporadic therapy offers, yoga sessions and the like are of little help here.

How is Facebook positioned

In the 2016 ZEIT report it was mentioned that when a request was made to Arvato with 19 questions about the job, the content manager was referred to Facebook. The social network in turn replied that these questions would not be commented on.

Facebook has now indirectly commented on the current reporting on The Verge with its own blog post. First, it explains why you work with third parties to check the content:

These partnerships are important because they allow us to work with established companies who have a core competency in this type of work and who are able to help us ramp with location and language support quickly. They have experience managing large workforces; scaling quickly for new issues and risks; and adapting with us as the risks to our community and product needs change over time.

Understandably, it goes unmentioned that this makes you less vulnerable and that you can save money because of the low wages. Facebook explicitly demands from the partner companies that they offer support with the strain, good space and materials as well as "wellness breaks". Too often, however, this is due to a wide range of interpretations. To this end, the companies are controlled and conversations are held with the employees. In addition, business reviews should take a close look at the partner companies. However, it is difficult to imagine that performance is classified behind the well-being of employees.

But Facebook has other initiatives up its sleeve to focus employee well-being. These include standardized contracts, a "rigorous" audit process for partner companies or summits with these companies, which should bring them closer to Facebook's values. While these options do not promise any concrete improvements, a so-called whistleblower hotline, to which employees of partner companies can report anonymously with problems, can be seen as progress.

With all the display of the Facebook brand through advertising campaigns, investments in AI development or the development of new features or advertising solutions, a company that reaches such a large part of the world has to spend billions of dollars with its position as a social medium deserves to show a stronger commitment to the content managers.

Why are the jobs accepted?

Now one might wonder why people take these jobs. On the one hand, it can be argued that the pay is not good considering the job, but is still acceptable compared to many other jobs. In addition, many people around the world are desperately looking for work anyway.

Furthermore, such job advertisements for content management jobs, for example from Arvato, don't really reveal how stressful the task is.

This position offers you the opportunity to work alongside one of our high profile clients who specialize in internet based searching and video sharing platforms. As a content reviewer you will be responsible for the day to day management of potentially sensitive internet content, ensuring a quality experience is provided to millions of internet users. As a reviewer you will have the opportunity to make a significant and direct impact on the quality of our client’s social media and advertising products. Content reviewers will be responsible for optimal quality and productivity levels.

At Arvato, it was announced at the beginning of 2018 that the number of employees would be increased from 700 to 1,000 in the medium term. And Facebook has to rely on significantly more staff - and should better pay, train and supervise them - so that the immense pressure that content managers are suffering these days is reduced. The current revelations again cast a bad light on the largest and most influential social medium and hold it accountable.

However, with the details about the blatant job as content manager, the debate about social media and the distribution of disturbing content is likely to flare up again. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or YouTube, inappropriate, shocking and abysmal content can be contained, but not stopped.

The role social media companies play in this battle is a topic of constant debate. In light of the immense number of users - and these users always provide them with valuable data - the unheard-of income they generate through digital developments means a responsibility. This is partly up to the content managers, and there must be. However, it would be desirable that they be treated like valuable employees. After all, the work they do is more than valuable. They protect millions of people from having to see monstrous pictures and videos etc. on the Internet. Many are therefore rightly proud of what they do - even if it brings them about sleep, their beliefs, perhaps even their psychological balance.