Because working conditions are sufficient punishment. The Daily Beast gives us a behind-the-scenes peek at Cognizant, a moderation subcontracting company for Facebook that demonstrates the future offered by Vibrant Woke technocrats. Popcorn is optional, Pepto-Bismol is mandatory.
Stressed Out Facebook Moderator Died of Heart Attack While on the Job: Report
By, Barbie Latza Nadeau 19 June 2019
By… Barbie? I must know.
Um. Anyway. Proceeding.
Some employees didn’t even look up from their monitors when a 42-year-old man tasked with purging Facebook of prohibited content died suddenly of a heart attack at his desk, according to a Verge investigation into a key company tasked with moderating Facebook content.
We always knew it would come to this.
Managers of the Facebook contractor Cognizant then allegedly prohibited employees from discussing the death at work for fear it would hamper productivity, according to the report.
Red shirt: “Could that happen to me, too?”
Captain Kirk: “Maintain discipline!”
Three Cognizant employees spoke to the online news site, breaking their 14-page non-disclosure agreements, painting a disparaging picture of what it is like to scour the social-networking site for hate speech, child pornography, and murder. The work was grim, often subjecting the monitors to images of self-harm and unthinkable cruelty against animals and children.
Police have the same problem. Cybercrime enforcement sounds sexy until you realize exactly what kind of sexy you’ll be exposed to every day.
But the working conditions—including sexual harassment, disgusting bathrooms with feces and menstrual blood smeared on the walls…
What a progressive, vibrant working environment!
…and at least one occasion when a preacher prayed loudly speaking in tongues…
Either a Charismatic exorcist or a Hindu tech support sub-subcontractor.
…were just as bad. Cognizant is the lowest performing moderation site in the U.S., enforcing Facebook policies with 98 percent accuracy, according to Vice.
Cognizant did not give a comment for the story.
No shit, Sherlock. More! We must know more!
The above was part of an expose by the Verge in February. The death was Coast Guard veteran Keith Utley on 9 March so this is a slightly dated story. Also a tragic one; as frustrated as we Red Pilled get with abuse at the hands of Leftoids, what they do to themselves is much worse.
THE TRAUMA FLOOR: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America
By Casey Newton, 25 February 2019
The panic attacks started after Chloe watched a man die.
She spent the past three and a half weeks in training, trying to harden herself against the daily onslaught of disturbing posts: the hate speech, the violent attacks, the graphic pornography. In a few more days, she will become a full-time Facebook content moderator, or what the company she works for, a professional services vendor named Cognizant, opaquely calls a “process executive.”
I’m only sympathetic on one of those three. If you can’t take “hate speech” then get off social media, it’s that simple. Violent attacks? Modern movies are gorier than the cop/soldier shoots I watch for entertainment. But yeah, sexual perversion is no joke.
But those perverts are the Social Justice Warrior’s colleagues. Chloe must bury her truly traumatic exposures underneath a stack of Orange Man Bad. She’s not allowed by her superiors to be honest.
For this portion of her education, Chloe will have to moderate a Facebook post in front of her fellow trainees. When it’s her turn, she walks to the front of the room, where a monitor displays a video that has been posted to the world’s largest social network. None of the trainees have seen it before, Chloe included. She presses play.
The video depicts a man being murdered. Someone is stabbing him, dozens of times, while he screams and begs for his life. Chloe’s job is to tell the room whether this post should be removed. She knows that section 13 of the Facebook community standards prohibits videos that depict the murder of one or more people. When Chloe explains this to the class, she hears her voice shaking.
Congratulations, Chloe. You’re a woman doing a man’s job. No sheltered life in the kitchen for you! This is what you women wanted. What you demanded. What you destroyed good men to seize.
Me, I’ve been in at least three near-fatal violent incidents in real life, working in gang territory Los Angeles. No PTSD. And you can’t watch Saving Private Ryan without a therapist?
Maybe… just maybe… women are not as emotionally strong as men. But she isn’t allowed to think that.
Returning to her seat, Chloe feels an overpowering urge to sob. Another trainee has gone up to review the next post, but Chloe cannot concentrate. She leaves the room, and begins to cry so hard that she has trouble breathing.
No one tries to comfort her. This is the job she was hired to do. And for the 1,000 people like Chloe moderating content for Facebook at the Phoenix site, and for 15,000 content reviewers around the world, today is just another day at the office.
Choose your fate, Chloe. You can either make $15 an hour as an empowered and emotionally traumatized cube jockey or trade in your Man Card for happy children and a husband’s protection.
Over the past three months, I interviewed a dozen current and former employees of Cognizant in Phoenix. All had signed non-disclosure agreements with Cognizant in which they pledged not to discuss their work for Facebook — or even acknowledge that Facebook is Cognizant’s client. The shroud of secrecy is meant to protect employees from users who may be angry about a content moderation decision and seek to resolve it with a known Facebook contractor.
Pointing out the obvious, it’s not the right-wingers who drive cross-country to vent frustrations via criminal action.
The NDAs are also meant to prevent contractors from sharing Facebook users’ personal information with the outside world, at a time of intense scrutiny over data privacy issues.
The NDAs are reportedly fourteen pages long.
But the secrecy also insulates Cognizant and Facebook from criticism about their working conditions, moderators told me. They are pressured not to discuss the emotional toll that their job takes on them, even with loved ones, leading to increased feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Which explains fourteen pages over a boilerplate two. We warned you that your Woke bosses were hypocrites, demanding we live in panopticons while their own companies issue NDAs in hardcover to ensure nobody talks. You thought you were special. Looks like you are.
To protect them from potential retaliation, both from their employers and from Facebook users, I agreed to use pseudonyms for everyone named in this story except Cognizant’s vice president of operations for business process services, Bob Duncan, and Facebook’s director of global partner vendor management, Mark Davidson.
Pics were not readily available. Per https://www.cognizant.com/about-cognizant/executive-leadership , 6 of 11 executives are Dot Indians. 4 are white men and 0 are Latino, for a company located in Arizona. Duncan is not among them.
Congratulations, Cognizant workers! You have been freed from the tyrannical oppression of the WASP patriarchy. Enjoy your feminist Hindu caste-archy.
It’s a place where, in stark contrast to the perks lavished on Facebook employees, team leaders micromanage content moderators’ every bathroom and prayer break; where employees, desperate for a dopamine rush amid the misery, have been found having sex inside stairwells and a room reserved for lactating mothers; where people develop severe anxiety while still in training, and continue to struggle with trauma symptoms long after they leave; and where the counseling that Cognizant offers them ends the moment they quit — or are simply let go.
Post-Christian Corporate America. It’s ugly.
The moderators told me it’s a place where the conspiracy videos and memes that they see each day gradually lead them to embrace fringe views. One auditor walks the floor promoting the idea that the Earth is flat. A former employee told me he has begun to question certain aspects of the Holocaust. Another former employee, [Randy,] who told me he has mapped every escape route out of his house and sleeps with a gun at his side, said: “I no longer believe 9/11 was a terrorist attack.”
Ah, so they DO read our blogs. The real trauma of policing the Manosphere is that you might start seeing the same Matrix glitches we did.
Chloe cries for a while in the break room, and then in the bathroom, but begins to worry that she is missing too much training. She had been frantic for a job when she applied, as a recent college graduate with no other immediate prospects. When she becomes a full-time moderator, Chloe will make $15 an hour — $4 more than the minimum wage in Arizona, where she lives, and better than she can expect from most retail jobs.
Another ruined young woman and proto-feminist. But nobody will ever be able to say she was only a housewife and that’s what truly matters.
Since 2014, when Adrian Chen detailed the harsh working conditions for content moderators at social networks for Wired, Facebook has been sensitive to the criticism that it is traumatizing some of its lowest-paid workers. …Until recently, most Facebook content moderation has been done outside the United States.
Not a coincidence.
But as Facebook’s demand for labor has grown, it has expanded its domestic operations to include sites in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
The United States is the company’s home and one of the countries in which it is most popular, says Facebook’s Davidson. American moderators are more likely to have the cultural context necessary to evaluate U.S. content that may involve bullying and hate speech, which often involve country-specific slang, he says.
This could explain a lot about their schizophrenic banning practices.
It is true that Cognizant’s Phoenix location is neither dark nor dingy. And to the extent that it offers employees desks with computers on them, it may faintly resemble other Facebook offices. But while employees at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters work in an airy, sunlit complex designed by Frank Gehry, its contractors in Arizona labor in an often cramped space where long lines for the few available bathroom stalls can take up most of employees’ limited break time. And while Facebook employees enjoy a wide degree of freedom in how they manage their days, Cognizant workers’ time is managed down to the second.
You know why these workers are so sensitive to what they moderate? Because management selects for weak-willed employees who will tolerate this pointless, cruel abuse. The same backbone that enables a manly man to endure traumatic emotions also enables him to tell his Kshatriya-caste supervisor where to shove his anti-America sadism fetish.
Security personnel keep watch over the entrance, on the lookout for disgruntled ex-employees and Facebook users who might confront moderators over removed posts. …There are barely enough [personal items] lockers to go around, so some employees have taken to keeping items in them overnight to ensure they will have one the next day.
To accommodate four daily shifts — and high employee turnover — most people will not be assigned a permanent desk on what Cognizant calls “the production floor.”
This is pure management laziness. How hard is it to number the workstations and write the workers’ names on a whiteboard? Come to think of it, how does management find a particular worker when they need to? A loudspeaker? Two floors of identical workstations, no assigned positions, no partitions or personal items allowed… I wouldn’t be surprised if management made a point of not even printing the workers’ names on their ID badges. Don’t want to be seen getting friendly with the lower castes!
Those challenges include the sheer volume of posts; the need to train a global army of low-paid workers to consistently apply a single set of rules; near-daily changes and clarifications to those rules; a lack of cultural or political context on the part of the moderators; missing context in posts that makes their meaning ambiguous; and frequent disagreements among moderators about whether the rules should apply in individual cases.
Putting on my managerial hat, let me count the fails thus far:
1. Rules are vague and subject to change. Either you hire only psychics or you don’t expect employees to read your mind.
2. Unreasonable expectations. Social media being heavily culture-specific, workers should not be expected to perform outside their comfort zones. Content moderation should ALWAYS have been regional, not global. Consider specializing employees to specific topics also, so they don’t have to keep up with every single change on every single topic.
3. Employees are not trusted to use their judgment. Second-guessing your underlings is bad for productivity, morale and turnover. What you do, if needed and reasonable, is accept their decision for the current issue and give instructions “going forward”.
4. Management is neither present nor willing to settle disputes.
5. Micromanagement. Set the employee’s daily goals and stop caring how they go about it. Trust employees to manage their bladders and lunches without Big Brother.
6. *sigh* Since this is a vibrant working environment and we’re talking bathroom breaks, lock down the facilities. Everybody must log into a bathroom stall to use it and if they report it’s messy, use the log to hunt down that shitty fucker and terminate him with prejudice. Clean bathrooms are CRITICAL to good morale. Don’t just put up a sign and expect Harambe to get with the 21st Century.
7. Termination of employees for casual or insignificant reasons. So long as an employee is trying to serve you, forgive his mistakes.
8. Allow privacy and personal items. Rearrange the workstations so employees don’t feel people are constantly looking over their shoulders. (What are they going to do, look at porn? That’s their job here.) I understand not allowing smartphones or thumb drives around the workstations for privacy concerns but otherwise, let them make their cubicles a little homey. Especially when the work is stressful.
9. Shift employee loads. While I was harsh on Chloe, nominating a more thick-skinned employee that she can refer the truly nasty stuff to would be better and cheaper than hiring a professional shrink. Such employees would be rewarded with extra pay and trust (from the professional counselor budget) and the existence of those “NCO” positions would help me identify the ambitious and talented.
10. Don’t hire a woman to do a man’s job. She will break and nobody will be happy about it.
Facebook has instructed Cognizant and its other contractors to emphasize a metric called “accuracy” over all else. Accuracy, in this case, means that when Facebook audits a subset of contractors’ decisions, its full-time employees agree with the contractors. The company has set an accuracy target of 95 percent, a number that always seems just out of reach. Cognizant has never hit the target for a sustained period of time — it usually floats in the high 80s or low 90s, and was hovering around 92 at press time.
11. Treating contractors as second class citizens. If they’re on the team then they’re part of the team.
Facebook will randomly select 50 or 60 [from a typical moderator’s 1,500 or so weekly decisions] to audit. These posts will be reviewed by a second Cognizant employee — a quality assurance worker, known internally as a QA, who also makes $1 per hour more than Miguel. Full-time Facebook employees then audit a subset of QA decisions, and from these collective deliberations, an accuracy score is generated.
12. Redundant layers of management.
Facebook’s single-minded focus on accuracy developed after sustaining years of criticism over its handling of moderation issues. With billions of new posts arriving each day, Facebook feels pressure on all sides. In some cases, the company has been criticized for not doing enough — as when United Nations investigators found that it had been complicit in spreading hate speech during the genocide of the Rohingya community in Myanmar. In others, it has been criticized for overreach — as when a moderator removed a post that excerpted the Declaration of Independence. (Thomas Jefferson was ultimately granted a posthumous exemption to Facebook’s speech guidelines, which prohibit the use of the phrase “Indian savages.”)
This is because Facebook is trying to have it both ways: they want to censor what they don’t like and not be responsible for allowing what they do like. Have the cake or eat it, Facebook.
A third major source of truth is the discussions moderators have among themselves. During breaking news events, such as a mass shooting, moderators will try to reach a consensus on whether a graphic image meets the criteria to be deleted or marked as disturbing. But sometimes they reach the wrong consensus, moderators said, and managers have to walk the floor explaining the correct decision.
Again, absentee management. The leader should have made the decision after collecting opinions.
The fourth source is perhaps the most problematic: Facebook’s own internal tools for distributing information. While official policy changes typically arrive every other Wednesday, incremental guidance about developing issues is distributed on a near-daily basis. Often, this guidance is posted to Workplace, the enterprise version of Facebook that the company introduced in 2016.
Like Facebook itself, Workplace has an algorithmic News Feed that displays posts based on engagement. During a breaking news event, such as a mass shooting, managers will often post conflicting information about how to moderate individual pieces of content, which then appear out of chronological order on Workplace. Six current and former employees told me that they had made moderation mistakes based on seeing an outdated post at the top of their feed. At times, it feels as if Facebook’s own product is working against them. The irony is not lost on the moderators.
“It happened all the time,” says Diana, a former moderator. “It was horrible — one of the worst things I had to personally deal with, to do my job properly.” During times of national tragedy, such as the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, managers would tell moderators to remove a video — and then, in a separate post a few hours later, to leave it up. The moderators would make a decision based on whichever post Workplace served up.
“It was such a big mess,” Diana says. “We’re supposed to be up to par with our decision making, and it was messing up our numbers.”
This is a management atrocity. Diana was trying to do her job and through no fault of her own, was messing it up. She was not the problem. Redundant layers of useless suits was the problem.
Officially, moderators are prohibited from approaching QAs and lobbying them to reverse a decision. But it is still a regular occurrence, two former QAs told me.
One, named Randy, would sometimes return to his car at the end of a work day to find moderators waiting for him. Five or six times over the course of a year, someone would attempt to intimidate him into changing his ruling. “They would confront me in the parking lot and tell me they were going to beat the shit out of me,” he says. “There wasn’t even a single instance where it was respectful or nice. It was just, You audited me wrong! That was a boob! That was full areola, come on man!”
Fearing for his safety, Randy began bringing a concealed gun to work. Fired employees regularly threatened to return to work and harm their old colleagues, and Randy believed that some of them were serious. A former coworker told me she was aware that Randy brought a gun to work, and approved of it, fearing on-site security would not be sufficient in the case of an attack.
Yeah, guns are nice when you’re afraid for your life, aren’t they? I would allow my employees to carry concealed (and open, it’s Arizona) and ensure security is up to the task of keeping them safe enough to never even think about drawing it.
Security watched him get screamed at by aggressive coworkers in the parking lot and did nothing?
13. Pay the employees enough that they take their jobs seriously. This avoids so, so many problems down the road.
Cognizant’s Duncan told me the company would investigate the various safety and management issues that moderators had disclosed to me. He said bringing a gun to work was a violation of policy and that, had management been aware of it, they would have intervened and taken action against the employee.
14. Don’t shoot the messenger. Especially in Arizona.
Before Miguel, [a moderator,] can take a break, he clicks a browser extension to let Cognizant know he is leaving his desk. (“That’s a standard thing in this type of industry,” Facebook’s Davidson tells me. “To be able to track, so you know where your workforce is.”)
You don’t even have an assigned workstation yet they want to know when you pee so they know where to find you? Hella whack, man.
Miguel is allowed two 15-minute breaks, and one 30-minute lunch. During breaks, he often finds long lines for the restrooms. Hundreds of employees share just one urinal and two stalls in the men’s room, and three stalls in the women’s. Cognizant eventually allowed employees to use a restroom on another floor, but getting there and back will take Miguel precious minutes.
That’s an OSHA violation, probably a zoning violation and possibly a Fire Marshal violation. Please tell me that extra restroom wasn’t originally reserved for management.
Miguel is also allotted nine minutes per day of “wellness time,” which he is supposed to use if he feels traumatized and needs to step away from his desk. Several moderators told me that they routinely used their wellness time to go to the restroom when lines were shorter. But management eventually realized what they were doing, and ordered employees not to use wellness time to relieve themselves.
Sadism confirmed. This ain’t funny anymore.
At the Phoenix site, Muslim workers who used wellness time to perform one of their five daily prayers were told to stop the practice and do it on their other break time instead, current and former employees told me. It was unclear to the employees I spoke with why their managers did not consider prayer to be a valid use of the wellness program. (Cognizant did not offer a comment about these incidents, although a person familiar with one case told me a worker requested more than 40 minutes for daily prayer, which the company considered excessive.)
H1bbie Hindus confirmed. No other ethnic group has a big enough Blue Check Mark to openly persecute Muslims for praying. Although the latter half of the paragraph sounds like there was a power struggle going on.
Cognizant employees are told to cope with the stress of the jobs by visiting counselors, when they are available; by calling a hotline; and by using an employee assistance program, which offers a handful of therapy sessions. More recently, yoga and other therapeutic activities have been added to the work week. But aside from occasional visits to the counselor, six employees I spoke with told me they found these resources inadequate. They told me they coped with the stress of the job in other ways: with sex, drugs, and offensive jokes.
Among the places that Cognizant employees have been found having sex at work: the bathroom stalls, the stairwells, the parking garage, and the room reserved for lactating mothers.
Employees have nine minutes of free time but there’s an entire room reserved for lactation? I shudder to imagine the wattage of the breast pump that can work that quickly. Maybe it doubles as HVAC. Can’t have too much HVAC in Phoenix.
Employees also cope using drugs and alcohol, both on and off campus. One former moderator, Li, told me he used marijuana on the job almost daily, through a vaporizer. During breaks, he says, small groups of employees often head outside and smoke. (Medical marijuana use is legal in Arizona.)
“I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve smoked with,” Li says. “It’s so sad, when I think back about it — it really does hurt my heart. We’d go down and get stoned and go back to work. That’s not professional. Knowing that the content moderators for the world’s biggest social media platform are doing this on the job, while they are moderating content …”
The same behavior occurred in Soviet Moscow. The real symbol of Communism was drunks passed out in the street, not the hammer and sickle.
News flash, Li: you’re on the wrong side of history.
Jokes about self-harm were also common. “Drinking to forget,” Sara heard a coworker once say, when the counselor asked him how he was doing. (The counselor did not invite the employee in for further discussion.) On bad days, Sara says, people would talk about it being “time to go hang out on the roof” — the joke being that Cognizant employees might one day throw themselves off it.
One day, Sara said, moderators looked up from their computers to see a man standing on top of the office building next door. Most of them had watched hundreds of suicides that began just this way. The moderators got up and hurried to the windows.
The man didn’t jump, though. Eventually everyone realized that he was a fellow employee, taking a break.
Yeah, I know a thing or two about dark humor myself. These are hard days.
Conspiracy theories were often well received on the production floor, six moderators told me. After the Parkland shooting last year, moderators were initially horrified by the attacks. But as more conspiracy content was posted to Facebook and Instagram, some of Chloe’s colleagues began expressing doubts.
We’re red-pilling the Facebook censors! They have as little chance to stay in the Narrative as the Roman soldier handcuffed to Apostle Paul.
“People really started to believe these posts they were supposed to be moderating,” she says. “They were saying, ‘Oh gosh, they weren’t really there. Look at this CNN video of David Hogg — he’s too old to be in school.’ People started Googling things instead of doing their jobs and looking into conspiracy theories about them. We were like, ‘Guys, no, this is the crazy stuff we’re supposed to be moderating. What are you doing?’”
They were reading ME!
The job also changed the way [Randy] saw the world. After he saw so many videos saying that 9/11 was not a terrorist attack, he came to believe them. Conspiracy videos about the Las Vegas massacre were also very persuasive, he says, and he now believes that multiple shooters were responsible for the attack. (The FBI found that the massacre was the work of a single gunman.)
A single freelance agent, they mean. Lots of people still have lots of questions about that shooting.
Last week, after I told Facebook about my conversations with moderators, the company invited me to Phoenix to see the site for myself. It is the first time Facebook has allowed a reporter to visit an American content moderation site since the company began building dedicated facilities here two years ago. A spokeswoman who met me at the site says that the stories I have been told do not reflect the day-to-day experiences of most of its contractors, either at Phoenix or at its other sites around the world.
The day before I arrived at the office park where Cognizant resides, one source tells me, new motivational posters were hung up on the walls. On the whole, the space is much more colorful than I expect. A neon wall chart outlines the month’s activities, which read like a cross between the activities at summer camp and a senior center: yoga, pet therapy, meditation, and a Mean Girls-inspired event called On Wednesdays We Wear Pink. The day I was there marked the end of Random Acts of Kindness Week, in which employees were encouraged to write inspirational messages on colorful cards, and attach them to a wall with a piece of candy.
15. I will ban all company newsletters, potlucks, themed days, motivational posters and other useless activities mistakenly categorized as morale boosters. Morale will be boosted exclusively by clean restrooms, cash bonuses, paid time off, promotions and converting the lactation room into a massage parlor for employees.
After meetings with executives from Cognizant and Facebook, I interview five workers who had volunteered to speak with me. They stream into a conference room, along with the man who is responsible for running the site. With their boss sitting at their side, employees acknowledge the challenges of the job but tell me they feel safe, supported, and believe the job will lead to better-paying opportunities — within Cognizant, if not Facebook. …
When I ask about the high difficulty of applying the policy, a reviewer named Michael says that he regularly finds himself stumped by tricky decisions. “There is an infinite possibility of what’s gonna be the next job, and that does create an essence of chaos,” he says. “But it also keeps it interesting. You’re never going to go an entire shift already knowing the answer to every question.”
In any case, Michael says, he enjoys the work better than he did at his last job, at Walmart, where he was often berated by customers. “I do not have people yelling in my face,” he says.
I was right about them intentionally hiring low-performing employees. No offense meant, but it takes either a lot of desperation or a lack of self-respect to endure anything like this even briefly.
When I ask about the risks of contractors developing PTSD, a counselor I’ll call Logan tells me about a different psychological phenomenon: “post-traumatic growth,” an effect whereby some trauma victims emerge from the experience feeling stronger than before. The example he gives me is that of Malala Yousafzai, the women’s education activist, who was shot in the head as a teenager by the Taliban.
That’s called ducking the topic, counselor. And before that headshot, Malala had already been nominated for the International Childrens’ Peace Prize… by Desmond Tutu, one of the first blacks to, ultimately, dispossess and condemn white South Africans to racial genocide.
“That’s an extremely traumatic event that she experienced in her life,” Logan says. “It seems like she came back extremely resilient and strong. She won a Nobel Peace Prize… So there are many examples of people that experience difficult times and come back stronger than before.”
Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize for shooting rockets at civilian targets in Israel. Former Vice President Al “I invented the Internet” Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for running CO2 protection rackets. Let’s see… the European Union won it in 2012 just because they were awesome.
The day ends with a tour, in which I walk the production floor and talk with other employees. I am struck by how young they are: almost everyone seems to be in their twenties or early thirties. All work stops while I’m on the floor, to ensure I do not see any Facebook user’s private information, and so employees chat amiably with their deskmates as I walk by. I take note of the posters. One, from Cognizant, bears the enigmatic slogan “empathy at scale.” Another, made famous by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, reads “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
It makes me think of Randy and his gun.
Honestly, this was an amazing article of how NOT to run a business. Long as this was, I still didn’t do it justice.