Facebook content moderators demand pay hike

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An international group of Facebook content moderators are calling on subcontractor Accenture to raise their pay.

The workers sent a letter Monday to Accenture CEO Julie Sweet making their demands clear. The letter was organized with support from the legal nonprofit Foxglove.

“Unfair pay is a problem you can fix today,” the letter shared with The Hill reads. “Accenture can easily afford to pay every content moderator a living wage that reflects the immense value they offer your company.”

Facebook’s treatment of its out-of-house content moderators, who spend long shifts sifting through posts, photos and videos on the platform to determine if they violate the company’s policies, has come under new scrutiny following extensive reporting.

The workers are exposed to vast amounts of often gruesome content that leaves lasting emotional harm. Facebook in 2020 settled a lawsuit and agreed to pay $52 million to content moderators alleging they had developed mental health issues, including PTSD, on the job.

Some employees say they are subject to overwhelming quotas depending on the office and are expected to stay up to date on all of the company’s policies.

“Reps basically process from 250 up to 350 items per day,” an experienced Facebook content moderator based in Europe who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution told The Hill. “That’s what they are expected to process.”

Accenture began providing content moderation services for Facebook in 2012 and now employs a third of the 15,000 people the social media giant says work on reviewing posts, according to a recent New York Times report.

The firm best known for its white-collar consulting has now reportedly signed contracts worth up to $500 million with Facebook.

The Times report found that content moderators contracted through Accenture in the U.S. make $16.50 per hour, while those stationed abroad often make less. Accenture makes an estimated $50 per hour from Facebook for each content moderator.

Following the news from the Times, Sweet sent an email to staff thanking them for their work and announcing a Q&A session that was held this Monday.

Foxglove sent a list of questions to Accenture concerning mental health care and pay but, according to the nonprofit’s director Martha Dark, those were not meaningfully addressed during the session. 

“The workers sent in their agenda and questions, their agenda was completely ignored and instead there was one question asked about moderation issues and the whole thing was heavily moderated,” she told The Hill. “[S]aying ‘we understand your concerns’ 100 times can’t undo a decade of her paying moderators peanuts – and offering life and wellness coaches instead of doctors.”

As part of the push for higher wages, the content moderators and Foxglove ran a mobile billboard from Sweet’s home in Bethesda, Md., to Washington, D.C., earlier Tuesday.

“Julie Sweet stop exploiting your workers,” the billboard reads. “Pay up. Clean it up. Fix it.”

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