After years of critical coverage citing the emotional distress experienced by Facebook’s contractors, particularly those who review often upsetting and violent content on the platform day in and day out, the social media giant announced a number of deal-sweeteners for this vulnerable workforce yesterday.
Facebook previously ascribed to a $15-an-hour (£12-an-hour) minimum wage across its US offices, but within a year it plans to bump that pay floor to as high as $22 (£17) in some of the nation’s most expensive areas: specifically Washington, DC; New York City; and San Francisco's Bay Area. Pay for content moderators in other metro areas is slated to grow to $18 (£14) per hour, except Seattle which will move up to $20 (£16) per hour.
Facebook did not identify a timeline for increasing wages for contractors outside the US, nor did it say how many of its 30,000 contractors on its safety and security teams, roughly half of whom perform moderation tasks, are internationally based.
The biggest wage increases are earmarked for content moderators, as are a number of changes meant to ensure their mental well-being. Chief among these is “requiring all vendor partners to provide on-site counselling during all hours of operations, not just certain hours of each shift,” “resiliency training,” and the option to have potentially violent images temporarily blurred, muted, or otherwise obscured during the review process.
Facebook has been dogged for years by unfavourable coverage about the conditions its contractors—moderators in particular—labour under. Last month, Zuckerberg’s empire was listed alongside McDonald’s, Amazon, and other infamous businesses on the US National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s watchdog “Dirty Dozen” list of dangerous workplaces. Exposés revealing the endless minefield of extreme content reviewed by Facebook’s moderators go back at least half a decade.
Changes such as this will do little to deaden the steady drumbeat of negative press the platform has attracted over the past few years—or the increasingly popular political stance calling for Facebook to be subject to antitrust laws. Perhaps the hope is that contractors with slightly more money will be less inclined to leak the details of their employment to the press.
Featured image: Justin Sullivan (Getty)