Facebook is Subcontracting Its Content Moderation for Hundreds of Millions of Dollars
“For years, Facebook has been under scrutiny for the violent and hateful content that flows through its site….” reports the New York Times. “But behind the scenes, Facebook has quietly paid others to take on much of the responsibility. Since 2012, the company has hired at least 10 consulting and staffing firms globally to sift through its posts, along with a wider web of subcontractors, according to interviews and public records.”

Facebook’s single biggest partner for content moderating is Accenture, the Times adds. “Facebook has signed contracts with it for content moderation and other services worth at least $500 million a year, according to The Times’s examination.”

Accenture employs more than a third of the 15,000 people whom Facebook has said it has hired to inspect its posts… Their contracts, which have not previously been reported, have redefined the traditional boundaries of an outsourcing relationship. Accenture has absorbed the worst facets of moderating content and made Facebook’s content issues its own. As a cost of doing business, it has dealt with workers’ mental health issues from reviewing the posts. It has grappled with labor activism when those workers pushed for more pay and benefits. And it has silently borne public scrutiny when they have spoken out against the work.

Those issues have been compounded by Facebook’s demanding hiring targets and performance goals and so many shifts in its content policies that Accenture struggled to keep up, 15 current and former employees said. And when faced with legal action from moderators about the work, Accenture stayed quiet as Facebook argued that it was not liable because the workers belonged to Accenture and others. “You couldn’t have Facebook as we know it today without Accenture,” said Cori Crider, a co-founder of Foxglove, a law firm that represents content moderators. “Enablers like Accenture, for eye-watering fees, have let Facebook hold the core human problem of its business at arm’s length….”

The firm soon parlayed its work with Facebook into moderation contracts with YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and others, executives said. (The digital content moderation industry is projected to reach $8.8 billion next year, according to Everest Group, roughly double the 2020 total.) Facebook also gave Accenture contracts in areas like checking for fake or duplicate user accounts and monitoring celebrity and brand accounts to ensure they were not flooded with abuse…

Each U.S. moderator generated $50 or more per hour for Accenture, two people with knowledge of the billing said. In contrast, moderators in some U.S. cities received starting pay of $18 an hour.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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