Former TikTok content moderators file lawsuit over ‘psychological trauma’ – TechCrunch


A pair of former TikTok content reviewers are suing the company, alleging it failed to support them enough as they went about the deeply troubling job of removing objectionable videos from the social network.

NPR first reported the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in federal court.

Plaintiffs Ashley Velez and Reece Young both performed moderation work for TikTok under contract through third-party companies – Canadian tech company Telus International and a New York-based company called Atrium, respectively. Velez and Young are seeking class action status, which would allow other TikTok content moderators alleging they have been adversely affected by the companies’ practices to join the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that TikTok and ByteDance violated California labor laws by failing to provide Velez and Young with adequate mental health support despite the mental risks of the “abnormally hazardous activities” they were required to engage in daily. He also claims the companies pushed moderators to review large volumes of extreme content to meet quotas, then amplified that harm by forcing them to sign NDAs so they wouldn’t be able to legally discuss what’s going on. ‘they saw.

“Defendants have failed to provide a safe workplace for the thousands of entrepreneurs who are gatekeepers between the unfiltered, disgusting and offensive content uploaded to the app and the hundreds of millions of people who use the app. every day,” the lawsuit states. He alleges that despite knowing the psychological risks of prolonged exposure to such traumatic content, TikTok and ByteDance have made no effort to provide “appropriate ameliorative measures” to help workers cope with the content. extreme afterwards.

The lawsuit describes how the two plaintiffs spent 12-hour workdays examining extreme and disturbing content, including “child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicides and murders”. Beyond the graphic content, the lawsuit describes how Velez and Young were also repeatedly exposed to hate speech and conspiracy theories which also negatively impacted their mental well-being. Another TikTok content moderator, Candie Frazier, filed a similar lawsuit in December, though NPR reports that case is not moving forward.

The new TikTok lawsuit follows in the footsteps of a class-action lawsuit the same legal team filed against Facebook in 2018. The company settled that lawsuit two years later with an agreement to pay $52 million to more than 11,000 moderators. struggling with mental issues. health because of the content they were responsible for sorting daily.

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