Though not much good news has come out of Facebook in recent months, it looks like tech giant is taking small—but necessary—steps in the right direction.
The company said via a corporate blog post Monday afternoon that it would raise the base pay for its contract workers to one that’s “more reflective of the costs of living.” Meanwhile, those that review content on the site—a job that means coming face to face with hate speech, traumatizing videos and more—will be getting a few added perks, like additional benefits and much-needed “supportive programs.”
The company starts its blog post by saying that the standards it introduced in 2015 (which included a $15 minimum wage and “comprehensive healthcare,” among other things), has proven to be untenable for some of the workers in more metropolitan cities. In the post, the company pledged to raise the minimum wage up to $20 for those workers in the Bay Area, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Contractors in Seattle, meanwhile, will get a bump up to $18 per hour. These changes will be implemented by “mid-next-year,” according to the post.
Content reviewers, meanwhile, will be getting a $22-per-hour salary in those metro cities. Seattle residents will get $20, and contract reviewers in all other U.S. cities will get $18 per hour. Those same workers will get access to “well-being” and “resiliency” training, which includes access to onsite counselors during all hours of operation. These same workers will also, for the first time, be able to customize the content they’re exposed to, which might include settings like blurring graphic images before viewing them, or choosing to view particularly disturbing videos without sound. Facebook will also be rolling out a biannual “resiliency survey” to all of its partner sites worldwide to get a “better sense” of whether the reviewers’ needs are being met. The company also said it is adding unannounced onsite checks, vendor partner self-reporting and a “whistleblower hotline” for contractors who feel they’re working in unfair conditions.
This news comes on the heels of reporting in The Verge and elsewhere that the content moderators on Facebook often developed PTSD from the content they were exposed to. Some of these people—that were paid, in some cases, barely minimum wage—found themselves turning to drugs and alcohol to cope.
These changes can be expected to unfold for Facebook’s American contractors in the coming months, according to the blog post, though the company is “committed” to bringing some of those perks to contractors in other countries.
“We made these changes after hearing feedback that reviewers want more control over how they see content that can be challenging,” wrote vp of HR Janelle Gale, and vp of scaled operations Arun Chandra in the post. “Content review at our size can be challenging, and we know we have more work to do.”