Thank you Facebook moderators & all who allow me to stay in my bubble

Hilary Sutcliffe

When I read about the reality of what Facebook moderators have to do every day, I felt sick. I know it's naive of me not to know, but I hadn't realised that all day, every day, thousands of them have to look at pictures of paedophilia, child abuse, necrophilia, beheadings, animal cruelty it goes on and on and decide whether to take it down or report it.  Imagine what that is like and how it affects the rest of your life.   I can’t even look at the pics on the charity newsletters I get without the images coming up again and again during my day and especially at night.  What on earth does it do to them, how does it affect the way they interact with others and their mental health?


This is not just about Facebook.  There are many such jobs, the paramedics, hospital staff, social workers and carers dealing with the aftermath of human viciousness, like the Manchester bombing, and the every day abuse a frightening number of us give each other on a regular basis.  The people who work in the many charities to help prevent child or animal cruelty, help the poor and the maligned, the abused and the tormented.  What must this be like for them, to see humanity at its worst week in week out.  How heroic they are and how thankful we are that they do it to keep us safe and oblivious in our cushty little lives.  


Though not that thankful.  Often these people who voluntarily pollute their lives with others’ vile behaviour get paid the least, if they get paid at all.  Because it isn’t ‘skilled’ or because they are supposed to get their reward from their altruism, many of them don’t even get financial recompense for the life-altering work that they do. Neither do they seem to get the support they must surely need to help them deal with the reality of the terrible things they see day in day out. 


It’s tempting to think this is a job for the robots and the AI, which I hope it increasingly is.  However it is the fact that it is so pervasive and needs such a policing system is really the shocking thing.  What to do about it, no idea.  I am not sure taking down the pictures makes it any less likely that the behaviours will occur.  


So next time we find ourselves whining because someone real or artificial at Facebook has made a mistake and taken something down which isn’t offensive enough, or left something up which has hurt someone’s feelings, spare a thought for the many hundreds of thousands of images they have spared us and what that might be doing to the people who have to shield us from humanity’s viciousness and brutality.  Thank you very much for what you all do. You are in my thoughts.