Scola worked at Facebook from June 2017 until March 2018. She alleges that as part of her job, she witnessed thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence.” As a content moderator, Scola enforced the social network’s rules prohibiting certain types of content on its systems. Scola alleges that she developed PTSD “as a result of constant and unmitigated exposure to highly toxic and extremely disturbing images at the workplace.” Facebook hired Scola through a third-party contracting company, Pro Unlimited. The complaint also charges the Boca Raton, Fla.-based contracting company with violating California workplace safety standards.
Facebook relies on thousands of moderators and A.I. to determine whether posts violate its rules against violence, hate speech, child exploitation, nudity and disinformation. The Company will be hiring another 20,000 globally. Scola’s lawsuit also demands that Facebook and its third-party outsourcing companies provide content moderators with proper mandatory on-site and ongoing mental health treatment and support, and establish a medical monitoring fund for testing and providing mental health treatment to former and current moderators.
Companies with content moderators will need to consider safety measures to ensure safe working conditions for these employees, although workers’ compensation insurance coverage is intended to cover workplace injuries such as PTSD. It is interesting to note that this lawsuit was filed in superior court as opposed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.