Facebook ‘moderators’ sworn to secrecy over censorship orders

£18k-a-year Facebook ‘moderators’ are sworn to secrecy by the social media giant, amid claims they are told not to over censor disturbing content

  • Undercover footage filmed by Channel 4’s Dispatches showed the policies
  • Some moderators were told not to censor disturbing content during training 
  • The social media giant pays its moderators as little as £18,000 per year

Facebook pays moderators as little as £18,000 a year to comb through the disturbing material on its site – and swears workers to secrecy.

Damning undercover footage, screened on Channel 4’s Dispatches programme last night, showed a training centre where moderators were told that footage of a child being beaten should be left online.

One trainer said: ‘If you start censoring too much then people stop using the platform. It’s all about money at the end of the day.’

Undercover footage filmed for Dispatches on Channel 4 shows the training processes behind Facebook’s moderation

In an admission of the cloak of secrecy Facebook operates under, moderators were told: ‘You are not to disclose any information… No matter how drunk you are, make sure you do not reveal the information about what you are actually doing here.’

Cpl Resources, Facebook’s largest centre for UK content moderation, also makes workers sign non-disclosure agreements. Last night, MPs attacked the social media network and warned that regulation was in the pipeline.

In the Channel 4 exposé, those in training were shown content allowed on Facebook, such as a racist cartoon of a mother dunking her daughter’s head in the bath with a caption which read: ‘When your daughter’s first crush is a little negro boy.’

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Another clip showed a child being viciously beaten. It stayed on the site but moderators were told to ‘mark it as disturbing’. It was then used in training sessions as an example of acceptable content. An advert for the position of moderator at Cpl Resources in Dublin, shared on a job website, says that employees will be paid between £18,000 and £22,000. Workers should have a ‘passion for ensuring a positive, safe user experience.’ Conservative Simon Hart, a member of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said: ‘Facebook would be absolutely crazy not to recognise that the wagons are circling now and that if these kind of allegations continue, and they are true, regulation is coming down the line.’

Some of the social media giants moderators were paid as little as £18,000 to screen the content

Facebook told Dispatches the video showing a child being beaten should have been removed by moderators.

Richard Allan, a Facebook spokesman, said: ‘It’s clear that some of what is shown in the programme does not reflect Facebook’s policies or values, and falls short of the high standards we expect.’

He added later: ‘This is very difficult work. We have enormous respect for the teams who review content on behalf of Facebook and all the people who use our service.

‘We are committed to providing staff doing this work with the support and recognition they deserve.’

Homage to serial killers 

Facebook was found to have dozens of pages dedicated to Britain’s most depraved murderers.

Fake profiles paying homage to serial killers including Peter Sutcliffe, Dennis Nilsen, Harold Shipman and Fred and Rose West were found to contain sick jokes referencing their horrific crimes. Chi Onwurah, a former Labour culture spokesman, accused Facebook of ‘normalising serial murder’.

The social media network removed the pages after they were highlighted by the Mail. But many similar profiles still exist on Facebook.

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