On the heels of Casey Newton’s riveting account of Facebook content moderators and their nightmarish jobs comes another fascinating look at workers on the front lines of social media’s biggest platforms: Alex Feerst rounded up some crazy stories from 15 trust and safety employees who’ve worked at YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Google, Tumblr, and more internet giants for Medium’s new “OneZero” tech and science publication.
Among the most insane stories is how in the early days at YouTube, the company brought in a “psychologist or therapist” to talk to the content moderators and help them cope with their jobs–but that person couldn’t even handle hearing descriptions of the most toxic content and soon left. As described by Jessica, a pseudonym for a former employee:
“They were really inexperienced with this sort of stuff. There was this moment where everyone was telling their stories about all of the most horrific things they saw. Their goal was, “Can we gross this person out?” That therapist never came back. It was like, “Great. Not helpful, everyone.”
Here are some of the craziest metaphors these moderators used to describe their jobs:
- “Six months ago we told you, ‘Don’t pave the city with banana peels.’ You decided, ‘Let’s see what happens if we pave the city with banana peels.’ We are now here to clean up the injuries.”
- “Your job is to be the unfun spouse who’s like, ‘Yeah, I get that you want a sports car. We need to get the minivan.'”
- “You’re one of the eggs broken to make the free speech omelet.”
- “As a joke, I say I’m an internet janitor. I just clean up the shit.”
Check out Feerst’s full story here.