YouTube can be an extremely rough place. There’s no doubt that there’s a need to ensure that unacceptably disturbing content doesn’t slip through and remain on the video platform. That said, there should also be consideration of the mental impact on moderators. Recently it was discovered that YouTube moderator company Accenture is distributing a document to its employees asking employees to acknowledge that the rigors of the job could cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, Accenture, YouTube, and Google’s response to the issue seems to be more than lacking.
It was on January 24, 2020 that the Verge obtained the supposed documents that were being distributed to employees regarding mental health and PTSD. The documents, via DocuSign, are specifically about acknowledging the mental health risks that are becoming increasingly associated with the job.
“It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” reads one portion of the alleged document. “I will take full advantage of the weCare program and seek additional mental health services if needed. I will tell my supervisor/or my HR People Adviser if I believe that the work is negatively affecting my mental health.”
This comes after Verge launched an investigation into the presence of PTSD and possible mental health concerns in the YouTube and Google moderator workforce. Reportedly, YouTube hires out moderation to third party companies who are in charge of policing YouTube for adult content, hate and harassment, and violent extremism. During Verge’s investigation, they discoveredthat many employees were facing decline in their health and wellness after long periods of work looking at and discerning disturbing material.
YouTube would not comment on the prevalence of possible PTSD among its moderation workforce. Google, however, issued a statement regarding mental health in its workforce on taxing assignments.
“Moderators do vital and necessary work to keep digital platforms safer for everyone,” Google replied. “We choose the companies we partner with carefully and require them to provide comprehensive resources to support moderators’ wellbeing and mental health.”
Even so, Google would not comment on awareness of Accenture’s document distributed to moderators regarding PTSD.
With some people speculating as to the legality to ask employees to disclose mental health issues, Accenture may find itself in deep water, and YouTube and Google along with it. YouTube has been forced to contend with content separation in the past, issuing a new set of guidelines for real-world violence vs. simulated violence in 2019. Even so, if the job to police disturbing content YouTube is causing PTSD, it would also appear that anything less of a full and comprehensive support system for employees is allowing for unsafe workplaces to persist under YouTube and Google’s nose.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, YouTube moderating service is issuing documents acknowledging possible PTSD
The Few, The Proud, The Moderators