June 29, 2022

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Former moderators again sue TikTok for causing trauma with its most distressful videos

Former content moderators are suing TikTok for the second time, alleging that the firm failed to provide adequate support as they viewed severe and gruesome videos depicting child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder.According to NPR, Ashley Velez and Reece Young have launched a class-action lawsuit against TikTok and its parent company Bytedance. Telus International and Atrium, both situated in New York, were hired as third-party contractors.According to the lawsuit, TikTok and ByteDance broke California labor regulations by failing to provide Velez and Young with necessary mental health support while working in a profession that required them to see “several acts of violent and graphic violence.” They were also subjected to hate speech and conspiracy theories, which their attorneys’ claims had a significant impact on their mental health.“We’d see death and nasty, gruesome erotica. Every day, I’d witness naked underage children “Velez explained. “I’d watch individuals get shot in the face, and another video of a kid being assaulted made me scream for two hours.”The plaintiffs claim that during their 12-hour workweek, they were only allowed two 15-minute breaks and were required to evaluate videos for no more than 25 seconds before concluding with greater than 80% accuracy whether the content violated TikTok’s guidelines. According to the lawsuit, moderators would frequently watch multiple videos at once to satisfy quotas, accusing TikTok of placing unreasonable “productivity expectations” on moderators.Both plaintiffs claim they had to pay for counseling out of their own pockets to deal with the job’s psychological effects. They were also required to sign non-disclosure agreements that prohibited them from disclosing the specifics of their work.According to the lawsuit, TikTok and ByteDance failed to provide “necessary ameliorative measures” to help employees cope with the offensive content they were exposed to.According to NPR, another TikTok moderator filed a class-action lawsuit against the firm and Bytedance in December, but the case was dismissed last month after the plaintiff was sacked.A content moderator for Facebook contractor Pro Unlimited sued the social network in 2018 after suffering from PTSD due to “continuous and unrestrained exposure to highly poisonous and extremely upsetting imagery at work.” The matter was settled for $52 million. In 2020, a YouTube mod filed a lawsuit against the Google-owned company after experiencing PTSD and despair due to seeing hundreds of frightening videos. 

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