Facebook Uses an Army of Third World Moderators to Wade Through Flagged Content

There is often a thick veil of secrecy regarding the inner workings and backend machinery of Facebook and especially Facebook Security. This really isn’t surprising – the less that hackers and scammers know about Facebook’s internal processes and procedures, the harder time they will have circumventing their defenses.

Have you ever wondered what happens when you report photos, Facebook pages or other offensive content? Well Gawker recently released a story that offers great insight into the matter.

The central figure of their piece is Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan who spent a few weeks training to screen and muck through the worst and darkest side of the Facebook underworld. He claims he was paid just $1.00 per hour and that Facebook is exploiting the third world. He was contracted through oDesk, a California based outsourcing firm.

Derkaoui also provided Gawker with a copy of a document called “Abuse Standards Violations,” which provides very clear guidelines on Facebook’s moderation efforts. Gawker calls this document “a map of Facebook’s moral terrain.”

Gawker also contacted several former moderators and many of them left due to the disturbing nature of the assignment. Imagine seeing a steady stream of gore, child pornography, beheadings and other gruesome, abhorrent images. Here are a couple of their quotes:

“Think like that there is a sewer channel,” one moderator explained during a recent Skype chat, “and all of the mess/dirt/ waste/**** of the world flow towards you and you have to clean it.”

“Pedophelia, Necrophelia, Beheadings, Suicides, etc,” he recalled. “I left [because] I value my mental sanity.”

If you are the least bit interested in gaining an understanding of the moral compass that guides Facebook’s censorship and moderation guidelines, then I highly recommend you read the one page cheat sheet and a 17 page manual contained in the article.

Allfacebook made an excellent point on Facebook’s decision to outsource their content moderation operations – “The people charged with making decisions about flagged content are underpaid subcontractors. If there were some way to do this in-house for a reasonable cost, perhaps fewer disputes would arise over content pulled erroneously.”


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