- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee.
- One line of questioning targeted Facebook’s content-moderation practices, which rely on contracted workers who have complained of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological effects of policing the most horrific content uploaded by users: murders, suicides, hate speech, and more.
- Asked whether he would personally spend an hour each day moderating the worst offenders, Zuckerberg demurred. “I’m not sure that it would best serve our community for me to spend that much time on that, but I spend a lot of time looking at this content,” he said.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire many times over thanks to his work at Facebook.
The thousands of contractors who Facebook employs through a third-party service are not billionaires, and many are making as little as $US30,000 a year to police the site for the prohibited, and typically horrific, content that gets uploaded every minute.
That much was revealed in a report from The Verge earlier this year, which highlighted the poor working conditions of those contractors as they removed child pornography, gruesome deaths, and other such content uploaded by users to Facebook.
“You’ve got about 15,000 contractors watching murders, stabbings, suicides, other gruesome, disgusting videos, for content moderation, correct?” Rep. Katie Porter of California asked Zuckerberg on Wednesday during a hearing by the House Financial Services Committee. “Yes, that is correct,” he answered.
The moderators are also said to experience difficult working conditions beyond the taxing work they perform.
“According to one report I have, and this is straight out of an episode of ‘Black Mirror,’ these workers get nine minutes of supervised wellness time per day,” Porter told Zuckerberg. “That means nine minutes to cry in the stairwell while someone watches them.”
Before Zuckerberg could respond, Porter asked: “Would you be willing to commit to spending one hour per day for the next year watching these videos and acting as a content monitor, and only accessing the same benefits available to your workers?”
Without answering the question, Zuckerberg pointed to what he characterised as the “good benefits” available to Facebook’s content moderators. But Porter cut him off.
“Mr. Zuckerberg, I’m looking for a yes or a no,” she said. “Would you be willing to act as a content monitor? To have that life experience?”
“I’m not sure that it would best serve our community for me to spend that much time,” he said. “But I spend a lot of time looking at this content.” Porter cut him off once again. “Are you saying you’re not qualified to be a content moderator?” she asked.
“No, congresswoman, that’s not what I’m saying,” he responded. Porter had one more response: “OK, then you’re saying you’re not willing to do it.”