Facebook content moderators describe PTSD symptoms

Moderators produced by Facebook are placed to oversee the content in the U.S. and have taken extreme measures to keep up with the stress of viewing graphics and offensive material on repeat.

The exploration of conditions at Facebook’s content moderation facility in Arizona, which is owned by a vendor called Cognizant, reports describe the office as a place where employees cope with intense stress by using drugs and having sex at work. One employee claimed that he had brought a gun to work because of a situation where he feared retaliation from former employees.

The moderators are only paid $15 hours to sift through millions of post that could be anything from potential threats to offensive jokes to videos revealing murders.

A spokesperson from Facebook announced in a statement, “We value the hard work of content reviewers and have certain standards around their well-being and support. We work with only highly reputable global partners that have standards for their workforce, and we jointly enforce these standards with regular touch points to ensure the work environment is safe and supportive, and that the most appropriate resources are in place.”

In addition to the previous statement, a spokesperson from Cognizant said the agency has thoroughly investigated the issues raised by the media and emphasizes that “previously taken action where necessary and have steps in place to continue to address these concerns and any others raised by our employees. In addition to offering a comprehensive wellness program at Cognizant, including safe and supportive work culture, 24×7 phone support and onsite counselor support to employees, Cognizant has partnered with leading HR and Wellness consultants to develop the next generation of wellness practices.”

Employees are allowed two 15- minute breaks, one 30-minute lunch and an added nine minutes of “wellness time” per day. However, the Verge reported that most of the workers said that much of the time spent is waiting in long lines for the bathroom where three stalls per restroom serve hundreds of people. People have reported employees using these stalls to have sex at work to cope with the stress of the job. Other have chosen to lactation rooms, which was such an issue last year that management removed all the deadbolts from the doors.

Some employees have admitted to using drugs at work to numb the pain, many using marijuana daily on the job. While others joked about “drinking to forget.”

According to the Verge, one former worker claimed that he started to carry a gun regularly and continues to sleep with one even though he has left the company. He said he fears that the threats made by fired employees would become a reality. In addition to those fears, he also explained how he began to envelope himself in some of the conspiracy theories that he was exposed to at work, finding that he believed in things he once never thought to be true.

He has since then been diagnosed with PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder. When the counselor at Cognizant was asked about the risk of developing specific mental issues, he instead explained that some people will experience “post-traumatic growth,” where trauma victims become stronger, although the onset of possible problems is always possible.