Online content moderators who have suffered the psychological side-effects of reviewing disturbing content on a regular basis are to be compensated by Facebook, which has agreed to shell out US$52 million in a landmark settlement.
The settlement is the result of a 2018 lawsuit taken out by former Facebook moderator Selena Scola and two other moderators, who alleged that Facebook failed to provide a safe workplace or compensate them for the psychological harms that they endured from reviewing disturbing content for the platform.
Scola alleged that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder from the job, which required her to review disturbing content including rape, murder and animal cruelty.
Facebook, which did not admit or deny harms caused to these workers, has agreed to pay at least $1000 to every US-based content moderator who worked for the platform from 2015 through to now, according to the preliminary settlement filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Mateo. A total of more than 10,000 people will be compensated. In addition, any worker who has a diagnosis of PTSD from work is eligible to receive up to $50,000 in damages.
It is the first settlement that involves a social media company compensating workers for work-related trauma.
The settlement was first reported by The Verge, which published an investigation into working conditions at US content moderation firm Cognizant in 2019. The firm, which moderated content on Facebook, has since shut down.