Facebook is close to reaching a settlement with a group of content moderators who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suffered other harms while working to remove disturbing content from the social network. In a court filing this week, lawyers for the plaintiffs said the parties had reached a tentative agreement with Facebook on February 7th.
In September 2018, a former Facebook moderator named Selena Scola sued Facebook in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleging that she developed PTSD after being placed in a role that required her to regularly view photos and images of rape, murder, and suicide. In the complaint, Scola said that she developed symptoms of PTSD after nine months of working at the company.
The proposed settlement now needs to be approved by a judge. The terms of the proposed settlement could not be learned.
Facebook and lawyers for the plaintiff declined to comment.
In the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election, when Facebook came under fire for failing to effectively police its platform, the company contracted with large consulting firms, including Accenture, Cognizant, and Genpact, to hire thousands of people.
Last year, The Verge reported that moderators hired through Cognizant were working in dire conditions in Phoenix and Tampa. Working for as little as $28,800 a year, employees reported working in highly stressful and dangerous conditions. Several workers reported that they had developed symptoms of PTSD after working as moderators, including some who had spent just a few months on the job. In the wake of The Verge’s reporting, Cognizant announced that it would leave the content moderation business and shut down its sites earlier this year.
The settlement would cover moderators working in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida from 2015 until the day that the settlement is signed.