Facebook content moderators at an Arizona contractor—the people tasked with sorting through each piece of content reported on the platform to determine if it violates the company’s guidelines—have suffered serious mental-health issues and are subject to an extremely restrictive workplace culture, according to a Monday report from The Verge. Moderators at Cognizant, who told the outlet they routinely view videos of grisly attacks and murders, are paid only $28,000—Facebook employees make, on average, $240,000, including bonuses and stock options. The employees are also reportedly subject to strict micromanagement, with very little time allotted for mental-health breaks or trips to the bathroom.
Many employees reportedly suffer from PTSD-like symptoms as a result of what they view on the network, and smoke marijuana, make dark suicidal jokes, and have sex at work to relieve the mental burden. One former employee interviewed by The Verge had become so affected by his experience at Cognizant that he brought a concealed gun to work—he now sleeps with his gun next to him, and routinely thinks through escape routes out of his home. “I’m fucked up, man,” Randy says. “My mental health — it’s just so up and down. One day I can be really happy, and doing really good. The next day, I’m more or less of a zombie. It’s not that I’m depressed. I’m just stuck.”