An ex-YouTube moderator has filed a case against the video search engine for not protecting its employees well enough

If you thought that the job of content moderators is all fun, you are sadly mistaken. Also, if you are amongst those people who keep chanting that tech companies like YouTube, Google, Facebook, etc. do not put effort to moderate their content, you are again mistaken.

Recently, CNBC has reported about a former employee (Jane Doe), who worked as a video moderator for YouTube from 2018 to 2019. She has accused YouTube of making its moderators watch extremely gory stuff before they can remove it from the site. Now, that is a part of their job, but the plaintiff accuses YouTube of never warning its moderators about the extent of horrifying stuff they have to watch and how it would impact them eventually.

The suit was filed on Monday in California Superior Court in San Mateo, and it says that the plaintiff had to watch an array of horrible stuff, including murders, bestiality, abortions, rapes, animal mutilations, and even suicides. During the training period, the company showed its moderators videos of smash opening of skulls, people eating out of those smashed skulls, kidnapping and beheading of humans, and other gruesome stuff.

So, here, it seems that the plaintiff is a little confused because if YouTube showed such videos during the training period, it meant that the job would not be easy and there is no point in accusing the company of not providing ‘a warning’ priorly. The training itself is a warning that weak-hearted trainees should take into consideration and drop out without going further deep down by taking the job.

The plaintiff was working for a third-party contracting law firm, Collabera during that period. YouTube hires thousands of content moderators who mostly work for third-party vendors like Collabera, Vaco, and Accenture. This plaintiff has claimed to experience panic attacks, social anxiety issues, and other mental health problems after she had to watch those videos during her job. The worst thing was that as per rules, every moderator is supposed to watch 100-300 videos each day with a 4-hours daily watching limit, but YouTube is extremely understaffed because no moderators can manage to keep up with the job for a longer period. So, most people quit within a year, and the rest of the moderators are then forced by the company to over-work each day, spend more hours than they signed the deal for on those gory videos, and this takes a major toll on their physical and mental health.

Then, when they ask for YouTube’s Wellness Coach and medical guidance, they get none. Their insurance does not even cover the bills when they have to seek psychiatric help on their own to regain their sanity.

The plaintiff told that the company monitors and controls everything about how these moderators watch the videos. They have to watch these videos with a 2-5% error rate daily.

About this lawsuit, neither YouTube nor Collabera has commented.

A few months ago, the Joseph Saveri Law Firm that is representing this plaintiff also filed a lawsuit against Facebook, which was quite similar, and it had resulted in a $52 million settlement. Let us see how much YouTube will end up paying to settle this issue, or maybe, YouTube will bring up some convincing counterargument and turn the tables!

Read next: Human content moderators are coming back to work on YouTube because the AI systems could not make nuanced decisions as a human mind does
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