YouTube moderators are required to sign exemptions that recognize that work can give them PTSD
YouTube content moderators are required to sign exemptions that acknowledge that the work may give them PTSD and threaten them with termination if they do not sign
- YouTube moderators were made to sign exemptions that recognize a risk of PTSD
- A report reveals that employees who refused to sign were threatened with dismissal
- YouTube contractor Accenture said the form is intended to reveal risks
- Experts say that firing employees for mental illness is a violation of federal law
Moderators responsible for ridding YouTube of harmful content are being made to sign exemptions that recognize that work can give them a post-traumatic stress disorder.
A report of The Verge’s Casey Newton reveals that YouTube contractor Accenture, which operates an office in Austin, Texas, had employees sign an exemption shortly after a prior investigation by the media about the effects of content moderation on Google contractors.
As The Verge noted, the exemption is apparently the most obvious recognition that moderation work, which involves the distribution of videos that often represent violence and pedophilia, can often lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“It is possible that reviewing such content may affect my mental health, and could even lead to a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the document distributed to workers according to The Verge reads.
YouTube moderators are being threatened with termination if they do not sign an exemption acknowledging that work may cause PTSD
‘I will take full advantage of the weCare program and look for additional mental health services if necessary. I will tell my supervisor and my Human Resources Advisor if I think the work is negatively affecting my mental health. ”
While Accenture said signing the document was voluntary, according to The Verge employees currently working for the contractor they say they were threatened with being fired if they refused to sign.
The language in the exemption also requires employees to seek help from one of the mental health advisors on the Accenture site, but does not describe reasonable accommodations for employees who may not be able to work as a result of a PTSD related to moderation.
As The Verge noted, not accommodating employees affected by PTSD may violate federal law.
Any termination resulting from a PTSD or other mental health diagnosis would also violate federal law, says a legal expert interviewed by The Verge.
‘I recognize that if I reveal my mental health, you can fire me. That is not allowed, “Alreen Haeggquist, a California-based employee rights lawyer, told reporters.
Accenture states that the document is understood as a general disclosure to employees and says that it does not require any employee to disclose a medical condition to the company.
What is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
People with PTSD often suffer from nightmares and memories of the traumatic event and may experience insomnia and an inability to concentrate.
The symptoms are often severe enough to have a serious impact on the person’s daily life and may arise immediately after the traumatic event or years later.
It is believed that PTSD affects approximately one in three people who have a traumatic experience, and it was first documented in World War I in shell soldiers.
People who are worried about having PTSD should visit their GP, who could recommend a course of psychotherapy or antidepressants, according to the NHS.
Combat Stress operates a 24-hour helpline for veterans, which can be reached at 0800 138 1619.
The news of Accenture’s entire company exemption follows other similar work-related PTSD reports and abusive conditions related to contractors who moderate content for Twitter, Facebook and Google.
It is not clear if Accenture moderators who have a contract for Twitter or Facebook are required to sign the same exemption as those who work for YouTube.
In December, The Verge reported that Accenture hired dozens of underpaid immigrants from Middle Eastern countries to rid platforms like YouTube, owned by Google, of terrorist propaganda, some of which are disturbing.
In other parts of the world, such as Dublin, Ireland, Facebook faces legal action on charges that it did not provide its moderators with adequate rest to go to the bathroom under conditions that the staff described as “humiliating.”
Employees of the Facebook moderation office in Dublin must also log in and out each time they leave their desks. If senior managers believe that the duration of the break is too long, the employee must provide an explanation.
Facebook also faces a lawsuit from California-based moderators for similar grievances.