Class-action lawsuit against Facebook alleges moderator's job gave her PTSD

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A woman who worked as a content moderator for Facebook is suing the tech giant, claiming Facebook failed to adequately protect her from getting PTSD from the graphic violent images her job required her to watch.

The lawsuit, filed on Friday in California state court in San Mateo County, is seeking class-action status, the woman's attorney said. 

"Facebook is ignoring its duty to provide a safe workplace and instead creating a revolving door of contractors who are irreparably traumatized by what they witnessed on the job," Korey Nelson of the law firm Burns Charest said in an announcement.

The lawsuit claims that Facebook has drafted work safety standards to protect content moderators from the graphic content they're tasked with removing from the platform, but that it ignores those standards when it comes to its own contractors. "Instead, the multibillion-dollar corporation affirmatively requires its content moderators to work under conditions known to cause and exacerbate psychological trauma," the suit alleges. 

The plaintiff, Selena Scola, says in the suit she was a content moderator for Facebook employed by the contracting firm Pro Unlimited for nine months starting last June. As part of her job she was supposedly subjected to "videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder," according to the suit. She was formally diagnosed with PTSD at an unspecified time, the suit says, and is asking Facebook to set up a medical monitoring fund to treat PTSD patients.

Facebook's director of corporate communication, Bertie Thompson, said the company was reviewing the claim.

"We recognize that this work can often be difficult," he said in a statement. "That is why we take the support of our content moderators incredibly seriously, starting with their training, the benefits they receive, and ensuring that every person reviewing Facebook content is offered psychological support and wellness resources. Facebook employees receive these in house and we also require companies that we partner with for content review to provide resources and psychological support, including onsite counseling - available at the location where the plaintiff worked - and other wellness resources like relaxation areas at many of our larger facilities."