How Facebook hires and trains its 3,000 new moderators matters, a lot

How Facebook hires and trains its 3,000 new moderators matters, a lot

Author: Rebecca Ruiz / Source: Mashable Mark Zuckerberg did the right thing when he announced Wednesday that Facebook plans to hire 3,000

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Mark Zuckerberg did the right thing when he announced Wednesday that Facebook plans to hire 3,000 people to review reports of objectionable content, including live video that might contain horrible scenes of murder and suicide.

The company may have wanted to confine Facebook Live to viral quirkiness like Chewbacca mom and a folk artist covering Tears for Fears on the hammered dulcimer, or serious streams of election results and people recording and broadcasting injustice. The sad reality, however, is that people have used the technology to share grisly footage of little public value and high potential for collective trauma. Last week, for example, a man in Thailand broadcast killing his infant daughter and himself.

While Zuckerberg hopes to protect the Facebook community from harm, his announcement raises big questions about how the company intends to shield its new hires from the emotional and mental torment of sorting through videos that might make most of us cringe or weep.

This is an intense, high-stakes challenge, and getting it right means putting numerous policies and practices in place that address everything from hiring strategies to mental health benefits to stigma reduction to workplace culture, says David Ballard, an expert in creating psychologically healthy workplaces and an assistant executive director for Organizational Excellence at the American Psychological Association.

“This is new territory,” Ballard says of trying to safeguard the mental health of people paid to monitor live video for violence. “It’s essentially vicarious traumatization. They’re not in the life-threatening situation themselves, but they’re viewing a situation that’s overwhelming, extreme, and upsetting.”

Facebook isn’t saying much about its policies so far. A spokesperson for the company wouldn’t comment except to say that every person reviewing content on the platform is provided psychological support and wellness resources. There is also a program specifically designed to aid employees who review potentially traumatic content, and it is evaluated annually.

The company has also not commented on whether the new hires will be contractors or employees. The difference between the two experiences can be significant; contractors may be seen as replaceable and be treated as such, whereas employees enjoy perks, benefits, and a more supportive workplace culture.

“Finding a good fit between individuals who can function in that environment, exposed to that type of content, is really going to be important.”…

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