The Joseph Saveri Law Firm and its co-counsel Burns Charest have filed a class action 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 Plaintiff Selena Scola of San Francisco, who worked for Facebook for nine months through a contract with Pro Unlimited, Inc. (“Pro Unlimited”), a staffing company based in Boca Raton, Florida.  Pro Unlimited and Facebook are both named as defendants in the litigation.

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,” such as Ms. Scola, to view these posts and remove any that violate the company’s terms of use.  The suit alleges that starting in June 2017, Ms. Scola witnessed thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence as a content moderator for Facebook.  As a result of this exposure, the complaint alleges, Ms. Scola developed and suffers 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 and Pro Unlimited will continue to avoid their duties to provide a safe workplace for content moderators such as Ms. Scola.

“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 et al. v. Facebook, Inc. and Pro Unlimited, Inc., seeks declaratory, injunctive and other equitable relief to protect the interests of Plaintiff and the Class, including an order requiring Facebook and Pro Unlimited to establish a fund to maintain a testing and treatment program for content moderators such as Ms. Scola 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.