In a landmark acknowledgment of the toll that content moderation takes on its workforce, Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to current and former moderators to compensate them for mental health issues developed on the job. The Verge reports: In a preliminary settlement filed on Friday in San Mateo Superior Court, the social network agreed to pay damages to American moderators and provide more counseling to them while they work. Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions. The settlement covers 11,250 moderators, and lawyers in the case believe that as many as half of them may be eligible for extra pay related to mental health issues associated with their time working for Facebook, including depression and addiction.
Under the terms of the settlement, every moderator will receive $1,000 that can be spent however they like. But the companies intend for the money to be spent partly on medical treatment, covering the costs associated with seeking a diagnosis related to any mental health issues the moderator may be suffering. The amount of money a moderator will receive beyond the initial $1,000 will depend on their diagnosis. Anyone who is diagnosed with a mental health condition is eligible for an additional $1,500, and people who receive multiple concurrent diagnoses — PTSD and depression, for example — could be eligible for up to $6,000. In addition to payment for treatment, moderators with a qualifying diagnosis will be eligible to submit evidence of other injuries they suffered for their time at Facebook and could receive up to $50,000 in damages. The exact amount of the payout depends on how many members of the class apply for benefits, and it could shrink significantly if the majority of the class is found to be eligible for benefits. In the settlement, Facebook also agreed to roll out changes to its content moderation tools, such as muting audio by default and changing videos to black and white. These tools will be rolled out to 80 percent of moderators by the end of this year and 100 percent of moderators by 2021.
Additionally, “Moderators who view graphic and disturbing content on a daily basis will also get access to weekly, one-on-one coaching sessions with a licensed mental health professional,” the report says. “Workers who are experiencing a mental health crisis will get access to a licensed counselor within 24 hours, and Facebook will also make monthly group therapy sessions available to moderators.” Moderators working in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida from 2015 until now are covered by this settlement.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.