The Joseph Saveri Law Firm and its co-counsel Burns Charest have filed an Amended Complaint against Facebook, alleging that content moderators responsible for viewing and removing offensive and extremely disturbing videos, images, and broadcasts from Facebook users are suffering from psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) and are not being protected properly by the social media company. The firm represents  Plaintiffs Selena Scola, Erin Elder, and Gabriel Ramos, who worked at Facebook in 2017-2018 via various third-party vendors and contractors (Pro Unlimited, Inc., Accenture LLP, Accenture Flex LLC, and U.S. Tech Solutions, Inc.).

Facebook users post millions of videos and images daily. Some users post content  depicting child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder. To maintain a sanitized platform, maximize its profits, and enhance its public image, Facebook relies on “content moderators” to view these posts and remove any that violate the company’s terms of use. The suit alleges that prospective plaintiff class witnessed thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence as content moderators for Facebook. As a result of this exposure, the complaint alleges, they developed and suffer from significant psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, including symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and social anxiety.

Facebook helped draft workplace safety standards to protect content moderators from this type of workplace trauma. Such safeguards include providing moderators with robust and mandatory counseling and mental health supports; altering the resolution, audio, size, and color of trauma-inducing images; and training moderators to recognize PTSD’s physical and psychological symptoms. The suit alleges, however, that Facebook ignores the very workplace safety standards it helped create, and instead requires its content moderators to work in dangerous conditions that cause debilitating psychological harm. The suit claims that absent the Court’s intervention, Facebook will continue to avoid its duties to provide a safe workplace for content moderators.

“This case is about protecting the people who protect the public. Content managers are human beings. They are not disposable. The psychological trauma and cognitive and social disorders these workers face are serious. But they’re being ignored, and the problems will only grow worse—for the company and for these individuals. It’s our hope and goal that Facebook recognizes its obligations to these workers and creates a safer workplace for them,” said Steven Williams of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm.

The suit, Selena Scola, Erin Elder, and Gabriel Ramos v. Facebook, Inc., seeks declaratory, injunctive and other equitable relief to protect the interests of Plaintiff and the Class, including an order requiring Facebook to establish a fund to maintain a testing and treatment program for content moderators to receive ongoing medical testing and monitoring, and any necessary medical and psychiatric treatment, until determination is made that their psychological trauma is no longer a threat to their health.