An appreciation to those working relentlessly, spending parts of their lives watching and screening out hardcore porn, torture, gore, flesh-squeezing, or any other undignified videos, posts, and statuses, to keep our Internet safe for reach. An appreciation, not sufficiently enough to be crafted in words, for these people who have endured mental and psychological pressure while filtering these things, something by which most of the so-called ‘content moderators’ could have easily got into mental breakdown.
Hint: this used to be completely done within the vicinity of Silicon Valley, but as content moderation industry grows (now up to 100,000-workforce strong), it is now increasingly outsourced into developing countries with cheaper wages and few welfare incentives (only 300 US$ a month), most commonly Philippines.
Read the whole story, the first of its kind to be published and written in long form, in Wired.
A list of categories, scrawled on a whiteboard, reminds the workers of what they’re hunting for: pornography, gore, minors, sexual solicitation, sexual body parts/images, racism. When Baybayan sees a potential violation, he drills in on it to confirm, then sends it away—erasing it from the user’s account and the service altogether—and moves back to the grid. Within 25 minutes, Baybayan has eliminated an impressive variety of dick pics, thong shots, exotic objects inserted into bodies, hateful taunts, and requests for oral sex.
More difficult is a post that features a stock image of a man’s chiseled torso, overlaid with the text “I want to have a gay experience, M18 here.” Is this the confession of a hidden desire (allowed) or a hookup request (forbidden)? Baybayan—who, like most employees of TaskUs, has a college degree—spoke thoughtfully about how to judge this distinction.
“What is the intention?” Baybayan says. “You have to determine the difference between thought and solicitation.” He has only a few seconds to decide. New posts are appearing constantly at the top of the screen, pushing the others down. He judges the post to be sexual solicitation and deletes it; somewhere, a horny teen’s hopes are dashed. Baybayan scrolls back to the top of the screen and begins scanning again.