New York Times: Google Rescinds Offers to Thousands of Contract Workers. “Google, facing an advertising slump caused by the pandemic, has rescinded offers to several thousand people who had agreed to work at the company as temporary and contract workers.”
The Verge: The Terror Queue. “Peter, who has done this job for nearly two years, worries about the toll that the job is taking on his mental health. His family has repeatedly urged him to quit. But he worries that he will not be able to find another job that pays as well as this one does: $18.50 an hour, or about $37,000 a year. Since he began working in the violent extremism queue, Peter noted, he has lost hair and gained weight. His temper is shorter. When he drives by the building where he works, even on his off days, a vein begins to throb in his chest.” This is about moderating content at Google and YouTube. It left me in tears. A disturbing but important read.
BuzzFeed News: Exclusive: Facebook Fired A Contractor Who Was Paid Thousands In Bribes To Reactivate Banned Ad Accounts. “A Facebook contractor was paid thousands of dollars in bribes by a shady affiliate marketer to reactivate ad accounts that had been banned due to policy violations, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. A company spokesperson confirmed that an unnamed worker was fired after inquiries from BuzzFeed News sparked an internal investigation. The person in question was based in the company’s Austin office, according to information obtained by BuzzFeed News.”
Bloomberg: The Secret and Frustrating Life of a Google Contract Worker. “More than half of Google’s workers are temporary, vendor or contract staff, known as TVCs. This shadow workforce misses out on many of the famous benefits and perks that have burnished the internet giant’s reputation as one of the world’s best places to work. Last year, a group of TVCs called for better benefits and in September, TVCs working as data analysts in Pittsburgh voted to unionize, a rarity for the tech industry.”
New York Times: Senators Urge Google to Give Temporary Workers Full-Time Status. “A group of Democratic senators has demanded in a letter sent to Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, that the internet giant convert its more than 120,000 temporary and contract workers to full-time employees.”
Bloomberg: Facebook to Raise Pay for Thousands of Contract Workers, Including Content Moderators. “Facebook Inc. said it will give raises to most of its U.S. contract workers, a group of people who have critical roles but aren’t paid or treated as full-time company employees.”
Washington Post: Inside Facebook, the second-class workers who do the hardest job are waging a quiet battle. “The thousands of people who do the bulk of Facebook’s work keeping the site free of suicides, massacres and other graphic posts are not Facebook employees. As contractors employed by outsourcing firms, these content moderators don’t get Facebook’s cushy six-month maternity leave, aren’t allowed to invite friends or family to the company cafeteria, and earn a starting wage that is 14 percent of the median Facebook salary.”
CNET: Google to require full benefits, health care, to contract workers, report says. “Google said Tuesday it will require temp companies that provide the search giant with temporary and contract workers to provide its staff with full benefits, according to a report by The Hill. Those benefits includes health care, a $15 dollar minimum wage and paid parental leave, the report said, citing to a memo sent to employees.”
TechCrunch: Google contract workers demand better pay and benefits . “Google contract workers, internally referred to as Temporary, Vendor and Contractors (TVCs), are seeking better, equal treatment. That entails better pay and access to benefits, as well as better access to company-wide information. In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, they allege Google ‘routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives.'”
The Guardian: Facebook’s underclass: as staffers enjoy lavish perks, contractors barely get by. “The $500bn company has been conscientious about ensuring that its subcontracted workers are relatively well paid. In May 2015, amid a nationwide movement to raise the minimum wage, the company established a $15 an hour minimum for its contractors, as well as benefits like paid sick leave, vacation and a $4,000 new-child benefit. But those wages only go so far in a region with out-of-control housing costs.”
Wired: Amazon’s Turker Crowd Has Had Enough. “Today, MTurk is more important than it’s ever been. Its crowd-work model has been adopted by Silicon Valley’s biggest companies to train AI algorithms, spot fake news, and keep violent content off of social media. In the long run, AI might take these jobs over—but right now humans are very much needed for tasks like cleaning and categorizing data. Turkers know they’re in demand, and some are losing patience with Amazon. For over a decade, activist-minded Turkers have been rallying for change, with little success. Meanwhile, other platforms in the gig economy have begun inching toward improvement—just in the past few months, Uber has added in-app tipping, and Postmates and Lyft have come out in support of legislation to help develop portable benefits programs for workers. Many Turkers feel that it’s long past time for a crowd work overhaul.”
The Atlantic: Social Media’s Silent Filter. “Thus far, much of the post-election discussion of social-media companies has focused on algorithms and automated mechanisms that are often assumed to undergird most content-dissemination processes online. But algorithms are not the whole story. In fact, there is a profound human aspect to this work. I call it commercial content moderation, or CCM.” This is the second large-scale story I have read about content moderators having to view absolutely heinous material with no kind of support – and, as I see from this article, with an NDA forbidding them to discuss what they’re seeing – but I haven’t heard a peep from the large social media networks. Have you?