Facebook Content Moderators’ Safe Workplace Litigation

A $52 million settlement has been reached in a groundbreaking lawsuit alleging that Facebook failed to properly protect their Facebook content moderators, who were employed by the company’s vendors and responsible for viewing disturbing, graphic, and objectionable images and videos from Facebook’s social media platform. The settlement provides significant monetary relief to over 10,000 content moderators who worked for Facebook’s vendors in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. The workplace improvements apply to any U.S.-based content moderation operations for Facebook.

Filed in California state court in September 2018, the lawsuit alleged that those who performed content moderation work on behalf of Facebook were denied protection against severe psychological and other injuries which can result from repeated exposure to graphic content like child sexual abuse, beheadings, terrorism, animal cruelty, and every other horror that the depraved mind of man can imagine. The lawsuit sought to provide content moderators with mental health screening, treatment, and compensation, and to require Facebook to improve their working conditions.

The Facebook settlement agreement achieves each of these goals. It provides monetary relief in the amount of $1000 to every member of the Class. In addition, Class members diagnosed with specified conditions as a result of their work reviewing graphic and objectionable content will receive a payment that can go to medical treatment for that condition and, depending on the amount remaining in the settlement fund after screening and treatment payments, may be eligible for additional damage awards of up to $50,000. Above and beyond this compensation, Facebook has agreed to take significant measures to provide U.S.-based content moderators employed by Facebook’s vendors with a safer work environment. These measures include requiring Facebook’s vendors to provide coaching sessions with licensed mental health counselors and other mental-health support, as well as enhancing review tools designed to make content moderators’ work safer.

Co-lead counsel, Steve Williams of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm in San Francisco said: “We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented program to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago. The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe. This settlement will provide meaningful relief, and I am so proud to have been part of it.” Daniel Charest, another co-lead counsel, said: “This groundbreaking litigation fixed a major workplace problem involving developing technology and its impact on real workers who suffered in order to make Facebook safer for its users. Ultimately, the settlement is a great result for the Class members.”

The lawsuit is Scola v. Facebook Inc., No. 18-CIV05135, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Mateo County. Plaintiffs have filed a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. If the court grants the motion, Class members will receive notice. Following that notice, Plaintiffs intend to file a motion for final approval.