A group Facebook moderators have published an open letter to company executives, in which they claim they have been put at risk. As reported by Fox Glove this risk mostly surrounds being forced to work during the pandemic. However, the letter also makes explosive claims about the efficacy of the company's AI.
This is extremely interesting especially after the company published results from its misinformation labelling efforts. In this, they claimed that the company's AI allowed them to more quickly label and remove dangerous posts.
Facebook has done things such as notified users directly of election results in order to try and combat the spread of misinformation. However, despite this many feel the company is still unable to truly make any impact on the spread of fake news.
As reported by Engadget, much of the letter concerns forcing workers to go into the office. The Facebook moderators claim that those with high-risk families cannot choose to work from home.
Open letter to Facebook makes explosive claims
The letter claims that "in several offices, multiple COVID-19 cases have occurred on the floor". It then goes on to state "Workers have asked Facebook leadership, and the leadership of your outsourcing firms like Accenture and CPL, to take urgent steps to protect us and value our work. You refused. We are publishing this letter because we are left with no choice."
The letter claims that the reason employers have had to come into the office is because the company's AI-based moderation is “years away” from being truly effective.
The letter states that "the AI wasn’t up to the job" and that the algorithms are some way off having any meaningful effect.
Moderators also point out a number of issues which predate the pandemic. These include inadequate mental healthcare. It also raises questions at their status as contractors rather than full-time employees.
The letter includes demands such as hazard pay, more flexibility to work from home and access to better mental healthcare.
Facebook respond to open letter
A Facebook spokesperson has responded to the open letter. The statement opened by noting "we appreciate the valuable work content reviewers do and we prioritize their health and safety".
It points out that the "majority of these 15,000 global content reviewers have been working from home and will continue to do so for the duration of the pandemic".
It also claims that all had access to "health care and confidential wellbeing resources". However, this letter generally demonstrates how much the pandemic has impacted Facebook's moderation efforts.
Moderators who do the bulk of the reviewing have long claimed that they do not get treated well enough. They point out that they spend their days' misinformation, graphic violence and other egregious content. Whilst earning a low wage with inadequate support.
Hopefully, Facebook will take some action to resolve this issue. However, with so much on its plate at the moment, any easy fixes could be tricky.