Media moderators from Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the company due to the lack of adequate psychological support.

Published on January 13, 2017

Media moderators from Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the company due to the lack of adequate psychological support.



    The rapid development of the telecommunications sector contributed to the creation of a large number of specialties, which about 20 years ago no one did not hear, but could not even imagine. But in large telecommunication companies such professions are very much in demand. We are talking about, for example, moderators who must search for and delete inappropriate snapshots from various resources.

    Such specialists work in many companies, including Microsoft. Here they are part of the “security team”, and are committed to looking for photographs and videos with “violence”, “sexual deviations”, murders, and the like. This is done in order, for example, to exclude the appearance of such images and videos in the general output of the Bing search service. Regular work with such materials has a negative effect on the psyche of employees, and recently it became known that two representatives of the “security team” from Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the company .

    The reason is the lack of necessary psychological support. The pressure on the psyche of people turned out to be so strong that, according to them, they constantly feel depressed while doing their work. The lawsuit filed by employees of the corporation provides an opportunity to learn a little about the work of those people about whom very few people know. In particular, it is difficult for them to moderate content with children and teenagers.

    Microsoft representatives reject the accusations of their employees, arguing that the company is very serious about the removal of inappropriate pictures and videos on their services, as well as the health, including mental health, of their employees who perform important work. The plaintiffs are Henry Soto and Greg Blauert, who have been performing their duties since 2008. All these years they are engaged in the removal of photographs with child pornography and other pictures, which depict illegal acts committed by some people against other people.

    The lawsuit statedthat the corporation has not warned employees about the negative effects of work. Soto claims that in 2008 he was transferred to a new position against his will. In the new place, he received the "status of God", that is, he could see the contents of any channels of correspondence of users of the company's services. The task of his group was to detect signs of crime and criminal groups. To do this, representatives of the group, including Soto himself, had to view thousands of photos and videos with violence and murder.

    “Many people simply cannot imagine what Mr. Soto had to deal with every day, because most of us do not understand how terrible some people can be and the world they create,” writeslawyer soto. As for the second plaintiff, Blauert, he began performing his duties in 2012. He also had to view thousands of photos and videos per day, but he “specialized” on child pornography.

    According to the plaintiffs, despite the fact that Microsoft does have a rehabilitation program, and if you wish, you can also get the help of a psychologist, all this has turned out to be ineffective. As a result, both employees suffer from a number of mental disorders. Blauert says he was advised to play video games and walk more. But later he was told that he was spending too much time playing video games.

    When Soto first came to his support team, he told psychologists about sleep disorders, nightmares, anxiety, and the appearance of a “screen in my head with terrible images on it”. Over time, Soto had visual hallucinations, panic attacks, and chronic depression.

    “One of the triggers for him is a child. He cannot calmly look at his own son, at the knife in the kitchen, cannot work normally on a computer, ”says lawyer Soto. As a result, Microsoft employee quit and went to the doctors.

    Blauert had problems four years ago, in 2013. He also suffers from sleep disorders, nightmares and panic attacks. Now he is also afraid of attacks, and also worries about the safety of the children he meets. He is not able to return to work because of all these problems.

    The plaintiffs demand compensation for moral and physical damage from the company, and also argue that the work of “online security teams” needs to be reformed to make this work less harmful. In particular, Blauert and Soto propose to introduce mandatory rotation of team members, more rest, weekly meetings with a psychologist and improvement of the existing Microsoft employee support program.

    The corporation, in turn, claims that employees receive the help of psychologists every month. In addition, the support teams use technologies that reduce the realism of images and video. Also, employees who no longer want to work in such a department can change their type of activity at any time. The company promised to reduce the mandatory moderation time of employees of the “online security departments”.

    In any case, according to the plaintiffs, Microsoft and other telecommunications companies should try to protect people who do “heroic work”. “They save the lives of children. They send criminals to jail, ”said Soto, a lawyer.