Let's Make Tech CEOs Moderate Their Own Hellish Websites
In what's becoming
The Wall Street Journal
published a story today
profiling the very human moderators
who prevent the internet from becoming a completely murder-filled terror and abuse machine. Usually hired as contractors, these workers do the dirty work of reviewing flagged posts for internet giants, spending their days plugged into a non-stop feed of graphic violence, child pornography, animal abuse, and terrorism. In return, they say they're often left with lasting psychological damage,
, for low wages and limited counseling-if they're given any healthcare resources at all.
"The first disturbing thing was just burnout, like I've literally been staring at porn all day and I can't see a human body as anything except a possible [terms of service] violation," one former Google moderator told the Journal . "The worst part is knowing some of this happened to real people."
For bloggers, however, easy answers are our stock and trade, which is why I can confidently state that drafting tech executives into moderating their sites is the best solution to this complex problem. Either by cultural norm or federal law, every c-suite executive eyeing a cushy Silicon Valley job would have to spend at a year in the moderation trenches comprehending the ugly souls of their shiny wares. Think Undercover Boss , except there are no cameras and no flattering Teaching Moments, just an endless stream of violence, crime and hate.
At the very least, it would make it harder for tech overlords like Mark Zuckerberg to trot out vague platitudes about their platforms "building community" while thousands of poorly-paid workers burn their retinas gazing deep into the abysmal hell-feeds they've created. And they might even learn something! Like, for instance, "Oh god, oh god, what have I done, this was all a mistake, this was all a terrible mistake."
Of course, forcing social media CEOs to reckon with dark truths about their creations won't solve every problem in Silicon Valley-which is why this program (which I'm calling EatSh!t) would ideally be expanded to include every startup that makes a few people very rich, some people's lives a little bit more convenient, and leaves an unseen mass of non-employee "contractors" broken and sad.
Founders love to recount their companies' humble beginnings as just a small team with dream. We'd all be better off if they spent some hands-on time directly observing how all those dreams panned out.
[ WSJ ]