In the wake of the surging coronavirus cases in the world, at least 200 content moderators working for Facebook are demanding better COVID-19 protections.
The employees say management has needlessly put their lives at risk by forcing them back into the office, even as full-time employees work from home until July 2021.
200+ Facebook content moderators signed a letter to Mark Zuckerberg demanding hazard pay.
Mostly low-paid contractors, they say they are being "forced" back into the office unless they have doctor's notes about their #COVID19 risk. At least 1 has now reportedly tested positive. pic.twitter.com/ObrMb2kk7Q
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 20, 2020
On October 12th, content moderators working for the third-party contracting firm Accenture, were ordered back to the office in Austin Texas.
The company implemented additional cleaning measures and asked employees to wear masks.
But according to reports, a contractor tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after returning to work.
Facebook has been under intense pressure to stop the spread of viral misinformation and take down incitements to violence, particularly around the 2020 US election.
During the pandemic, it relied more heavily on artificial intelligence to detect content that violated its policies.
While high-risk workers do not have to return to the office, contractors say the policy doesn’t extend to those who live with high-risk individuals.
They’re asking Facebook and Accenture to allow moderators to work from home if they live with someone who is high risk.
Workers are also demanding hazard pay of 1.5x their typical hourly wage and asking Facebook to stop outsourcing their work.
“Facebook should bring the content moderation workforce in house, giving us the same rights and benefits as full Facebook staff,” the letter says.
The demands reflect longstanding tensions between content moderators and the big tech companies for which they contract. While these workers are asked to look at some of the most vile content on the internet, their jobs often lack the pay and benefits of full-time employees.