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Facebook staffing firm forced on-site therapists to reveal confidential info on moderators, report says

Megan Henney

Meetings between Facebook moderators — who are in charge of scrubbing the social network of any disturbing posts, including violent attacks, graphic imagery and hate speech — and their on-site therapists might not be private.

That’s according to a report published on Saturday by the Intercept, which revealed that a group of a dozen Facebook and Instagram moderators wrote a letter this week alleging that Accenture, the contractor that’s employed by the social media juggernaut to manage their content moderators in Austin, Texas, asked on-site therapists to divulge confidential information discussed in employee trauma sessions.

In the letter, obtained by the Intercept, the employees called for the removal of the Accenture manager who pressed the counselor for “confidential medical information.”

“Since the beginning of writing this letter we became aware that [a different manager] that the above [manager] reports to is now pressuring these counselors to divulge more confidential information,” they wrote. “This is no longer an isolated incident but a systemic top-down problem plaguing Accenture management. This must be addressed as soon as possible.”

An outsourcing manager at Facebook corporate, however, claimed that an internal investigation had found “no violation or breach of trust between our licensed counselors and a contracted employee.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s not the first time that content reviewers working in Austin complained about their working conditions. In February, workers complained about not being allowed to leave the building for breaks or answer personal phone calls at work, according to a Bloomberg News report.

The Verge has also previously reported on the trauma that moderators face on a daily basis when they’re presented with some of the most gruesome images and videos online. Many said they are pressured to not discuss the emotional toll their job takes on them, even with loved ones, and described a work environment that’s “perpetually teetering on the brink of chaos.”

It’s also significantly cheaper for Facebook, one of the world’s richest companies, to outsource content moderators.

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