For the last several years, Facebook contractors have been saying that they are being exposed to upsetting and violent content on the platform, as they help to moderate what is being posted on the platform. As a result of this exposure, they have been asking for an increase in their wage. And you really can’t blame them, considering the kind of information and graphic content that they have to look at on a regular basis. Many consider this danger or hazard pay. In fact, Facebook has only been paying these moderators $15 an hour, across the United States. Because of all the noise that is being made, Facebook has finally committed to bumping that pay up.
How much will depend on where you live. They’re going as high as $22 in areas like Washington D.C., New York City, and the San Francisco Bay area. Elsewhere, however, content moderators will get as much as $18 an hour, or $20 if you live in Seattle. What isn’t clear is when Facebook plans to increase wages for contractors outside the United States, or even how many contractors this would impact. Currently, Facebook has 30,000 contractors, roughly half are internationally based.
The biggest wage increases are earmarked for content moderators, as are a number of changes meant to ensure that this content isn’t causing them distress. Among these initiatives includes “requiring all vendor partners to provide on-site counseling during all hours of operations, not just certain hours of each shift,” “resiliency training,” and the option to have potentially violent images temporarily blurred, muted, or otherwise obscured during the review process.
Facebook has been plagued for many years by poor coverage related to the conditions of these contractors. Especially moderators. Last month, Facebook made the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s list of dangerous workplaces. While maybe the physical danger isn’t the same as a place like McDonald’s, but an individual’s mental well-being is just as important.
But will an increase in wage have an impact on the negative press coverage? Or is this just one more thing in a long line of missteps that will ultimately be its demise? No, I’m not saying that Facebook will get taken down as a result of some bad press coverage, but at what point do you say enough is enough? I often compare Facebook to a bad boyfriend. At what point do we as users say that Facebook is a bad boyfriend and we just cut them off completely?
Now, I’m not trying to be dramatic, but facts are facts. Even if this isn’t the boyfriend that you leave, this is the relationship that has to change. A wise friend of mine always says actions speak louder than words, and if I’m being honest, the actions aren’t really at the level that they should be, given all the complications and trouble that they’ve been in this year.
Which is why I’m hesitant to say that a simple wage increase for people that are looking at some pretty horrible content, might not do everything that they think it will. Will it help their image? A bit, but they really have to think about the bigger picture and the kind of impact they are having on society. That’s the true test.