The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed

content moderator

 

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.

 

Excerpt:

 

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.

The Facebook Comment That Ruined A Life

 

facebook victim

 

Justin Carter was an ordinary person – he played games, got active on Facebook, and did most stuff what teenagers normally do, but one unfortunate incident, which most of us barely care in our daily lives, puts his life, and his reputation, on jeopardy.

He posted a threatening comment in the social media site, and he was put in jail for a few months, and his legal case ends up in limbo.

Everyone, please be careful whenever you post something on Facebook.

 

Read his full story on Dallas Observer.

 

Excerpt:

 

One of the comments appears to be a response to an earlier comment in which someone called Carter crazy. Carter’s retort was: “I’m fucked in the head alright, I think I’ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN [sic].”

Carter followed with “AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN.”

When a person writing under the profile name “Hannah Love” responded with “i hope you [burn] in hell you fucking prick,” Carter put the cherry on top: “AND EAT THE BEATING HEART OF ONE OF THEM.” (The Austin police officer who wrote up the subsequent report noted: “all caps to emphasize his anger or rage.” )

That’s when someone in Canada — an individual as yet unidentified in court records — notified local authorities. Because Carter’s profile listed him as living in Austin, the Canadians sent the tip to the Austin Police Department. Along with a cell-phone screenshot of part of the thread and a link to Carter’s Facebook page, the tipster provided this narrative: “This man, Justin Carter, made a number of threats on Facebook to shoot up a class of kindergartners. … He also made numerous comments telling people to go shoot themselves in the face and drink bleach. The threats to shoot the children were made approximately an hour ago.”

The Crash of EgyptAir 990

egyptair

 

As the world still mourns the devastating Malaysia Airlines’ MH17 shoot-down incident in Ukraine (the second time the country’s national carrier faces its tragedy after the disappearance of MH370), let us take a look at another case of plane crash, as seen from the case of EgyptAir 990, which crashed into the waters surrounding Nantucket Islands, Massachusetts, on a flight scheduled between Los Angeles and Cairo, Egypt’s capital, 15 years ago.

The real cause of the crash, though, remains up to speculation nowadays. Some disputed if it was caused by mechanical failures or a deliberately planned act by the main crew themselves.

Read the full story, written by veteran journalist and aviation enthusiast, William Langewiesche, released in 2001, in The Atlantic.

 

Excerpt:

 

Flight 990 pushed back from the gate and taxied toward the active runway at 1:12 A.M. Because there was little other traffic at the airport, communications with the control tower were noticeably relaxed. At 1:20 Flight 990 lifted off. It topped the clouds at 1,000 feet and turned out over the ocean toward a half moon rising above the horizon. The airplane was identified and tracked by air-traffic-control radar as it climbed through the various New York departure sectors and entered the larger airspace belonging to the en-route controllers of New York Center; its transponder target and data block moved steadily across the controllers’ computer-generated displays, and its radio transmissions sounded perhaps a little awkward, but routine. At 1:44 it leveled off at the assigned 33,000 feet.

The en-route controller working the flight was a woman named Ann Brennan, a private pilot with eight years on the job. She had the swagger of a good controller, a real pro. Later she characterized the air traffic that night as slow, which it was—during the critical hour she had handled only three other flights. The offshore military-exercise zones, known as warning areas, were inactive. The sky was sleeping.

At 1:47 Brennan said, “EgyptAir Nine-ninety, change to my frequency one-two-five-point-niner-two.”

EgyptAir acknowledged the request with a friendly “Good day,” and after a pause checked in on the new frequency: “New York, EgyptAir Nine-nine-zero heavy, good morning.”

Brennan answered, “EgyptAir Nine-ninety, roger.”

That was the last exchange. Brennan noticed that the flight still had about fifteen minutes to go before leaving her sector. Wearing her headset, she stood up and walked six feet away to sort some paperwork. A few minutes later she approved a request by Washington Center to steer an Air France 747 through a corner of her airspace. She chatted for a while with her supervisor, a man named Ray Redhead. In total she spent maybe six minutes away from her station, a reasonable interval on such a night. It was just unlucky that while her back was turned Flight 990 went down.

 

 

Land of Legend: Into the Heart of the Silk Route

uzbekistan

 

Uzbekistan remains a notorious, much-reviled word for human rights advocates, activists, and everyone elsewhere in the globe opposed to dictatorships. From the independence up to these days, the country has had only one strongman, Islam Karimov, in charge of the whole nation. Problems increasingly surround this state, nonetheless: tens of thousands of dissidents have been imprisoned in secret camps, incessantly and brutally tortured, freedom of speech and expressions is nearly completely paralyzed, and issues of succession remain murky for the country’s future, which, anytime, if goes wrong, may likely spark a deadly civil war.

Somehow, it’s not a nation of bloodshed: blame the government for all the misdeeds it has caused towards its populace, and its tumultuous history, but still, deep inside, by nature, and by virtues of nature, it is a, call it ironically, beautiful nation.

Read the full article in Ficus Media, as some photographers travel across the country – forget that political addendum – and reveal the other side of Uzbekistan mainstream media has rarely reported.

 

Excerpt:

 

It is a land beautiful and brutal in equal measure, a short, dramatic flight from New Delhi. As I look through the window of my plane, the vanilla ice-cream on chocolate cake Himalayas seem close enough to reach out and touch.

Far below, I can see the vast sweep of the Indus plains, dissolving into the deep furrows of the Hindu-Kush. It was here that Genghis Khan wintered his army; here that Timur crossed with his camels and horses and a hundred thousand warriors during his march on the Delhi Sultanate, circa 1398. How, you wonder as you look down on the inhospitable landscape, did he manage that march? And how, on his return, did he get the elephants he had brought back from Delhi across those lofty, frozen mountain passes?

Tashkent, with its wide, empty avenues, its boxy, largely deserted apartment complexes and pervading hush, is the antithesis of Delhi’s endless bustle. Save for a hunched gold-toothed old woman in scarf and heavy coat pushing a threadbare shopping cart past shuttered neon-signed stores on a street lit by pale lamps, there is nary a person to be seen. A lone packed bus plies tired looking commuters presumably back home. It’s all desolate and cold as I make my way to my hotel.

Many-pillared, stodgy buildings domed gold and silver, imprints of the old Soviet Union, dominate the cityscape. Men in uniform walk briskly by or stand about, their presence a testimony to the regime that rules Uzbekistan now. It is a sub-text that is always hinted at, but just beyond sight of, an itinerant visitor.

The longform guide to Nelson Mandela

t1larg.mandela.pienaar

 

 

A series of articles to commemorate one of the history’s greatest leaders, despite his murky, uneasy past.

‘Invictus’ hero recalls day Mandela transformed South Africa

The hopes, and fears, of Francois Pienaar before his first-time hand-shaking with the recently released African National Congress leader. Read the full article on CNN.

Excerpt:

In his book, Carlin described Pienaar as the “big blonde son of apartheid,” a 6-foot-4, 240-pound man who grew up worshipping the violent sport of rugby, an obsession for many Afrikaners. Rugby is known as “the opium of the Afrikaner,” says Carlin.

Like many Afrikaners, Pienaar said he didn’t question the morality of apartheid growing up, nor did he think much of Mandela, who was considered a terrorist by many white South Africans.

“Sadly, I couldn’t say that I did,” he said. “I didn’t oppose apartheid. Politics wasn’t on my radar screen. I saw the divisions in life and in school, but I just didn’t ask why.”

 

A white South African’s memories of Mandela

A CNN editorial producer, and also a White South African, recalls the first moment she met with Mandela. Read the full article here.

Excerpt:

We whites had lived in a place that denied people their basic human rights. Why had it taken so long to change this inhumane system? How had we allowed it? I stood in that line experiencing a mixture of jubilation and guilt. Had I really lived for 29 years in a country that had denied the majority of its people the right to vote?

It was also a time to truly appreciate the enormous sacrifice and achievement of Nelson Mandela and his comrades.

Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990 had been both a highly anticipated and enormously feared event. Many members of the white South African minority were terrified of the kind of displacement and retribution that has historically followed revolutions and major changes in government. So you can imagine everyone’s relief when, rather than calling for a revolution, Mandela instead preached reconciliation, and spoke of a Rainbow Nation and the importance of Ubuntu — we are human through the humanity of others. It was then that the brilliance of Mandela as a peacemaker, a politician and a statesman emerged.

However, despite our acknowledgement of him for his universal power of wisdom, it is not that Mandela is a perfect human, though. These two articles below highlight the evidence.

 

How Nelson Mandela betrayed us, says ex-wife Winnie

The reasons Winnie Mandela feels the deep ‘betrayal’. Read the full article on London Evening Standard.

Excerpt:

In the late Eighties, Winnie’s thuggish bodyguards, the Mandela United Football Club, terrorised Soweto. Club “captain” was Jerry Richardson, who died in prison last year while serving life for the murder of Stompie Moeketsi, a 14-year-old who was kidnapped with three other boys and beaten in the home where we would soon sit, sipping coffee. Winnie was sentenced to six years for kidnap, which was reduced to a fine on appeal.

Members of the gang would later testify to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Winnie had ordered the torture, murder and kidnap of her own people, and even participated directly.

Winnie used to live, before she was famous, down one of the narrow, congested streets with small brick and iron sheet houses. Soweto is still a predominately black township: tourists come in buses to gawp at the streets linked to freedom, apartheid and Mandela.

 

How the ANC’s Faustian pact sold out South Africa’s poorest

A former ANC committee member recalled what he termed ‘the greatest mistake he, Mandela, and others on the party had committed’ for the country. The full article is on The Guardian.

Excerpt:

What I call our Faustian moment came when we took an IMF loan on the eve of our first democratic election. That loan, with strings attached that precluded a radical economic agenda, was considered a necessary evil, as were concessions to keep negotiations on track and take delivery of the promised land for our people. Doubt had come to reign supreme: we believed, wrongly, there was no other option; that we had to be cautious, since by 1991 our once powerful ally, the Soviet union, bankrupted by the arms race, had collapsed. Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles. Whatever the threats to isolate a radicalising South Africa, the world could not have done without our vast reserves of minerals. To lose our nerve was not necessary or inevitable. The ANC leadership needed to remain determined, united and free of corruption – and, above all, to hold on to its revolutionary will. Instead, we chickened out. The ANC leadership needed to remain true to its commitment of serving the people. This would have given it the hegemony it required not only over the entrenched capitalist class but over emergent elitists, many of whom would seek wealth through black economic empowerment, corrupt practices and selling political influence.