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A few days ago, fellow member @unsk wrote about California’s threat to the sanctity of the confessional in the Catholic Church. As an observation, I replied:
I don’t think many people appreciate the burdens the church puts on its priesthood. The confessional is an awful weight. The secrets some people carry are enough to push one to a breaking point and I cannot fathom knowing the secrets of an entire congregation.
To look out from the pulpit and to see adulterers, abusers, addicts, and worse and all the while greeting them as if nothing is wrong – and being absolutely handcuffed in responding to it.
No wonder some priests drink.
This morning, The Verge published an article about the folks working at Cognizant, a company that provides moderators for Facebook content. If priests deserve respect for the things they’ve heard, these people deserve sainthood for the things that they’ve seen.
We worry about Facebook silencing conservative voices. This is the least of that company’s worries. Among the innocuous postings of family reunions, Little League schedules and political rants are some of the vilest things imaginable. Cruelty to children, cruelty to animals, cruelty to adults — and all of it recorded by cell phone and posted with a sick and twisted pride. The videos get reported and some poor schmoe has to watch it, and by Facebook rules, for at least 15 seconds.
While the article serves mostly to condemn the overall working conditions at Cognizant and their string of dog-and-pony shows for Facebook management, it’s the overwhelming nature of the work that’s most disturbing. For $15 an hour, these people are watching the worst mankind has to offer. Videos are deleted and reposted by someone else, again and again. But even after they’ve been permanently dealt with, they still run forever in the minds of the moderators. Walking into a room full of internet work stations has become their equivalent of going to war, but without the ability to take out the bad guys.
At this point, the digital genie can’t be put back in the bottle, but it needs to be crippled a bit. The question remains as to how to accomplish that. Meanwhile, Facebook needs to take control of its moderation problem. And take care of their moderators.