In 2018, 11,250 content moderators filed a complaint against Facebook, saying they developed mental health conditions due to their job.
Facebook has now agreed to settle this claim and pay out $52 million.
The plaintiffs will receive at least $1000 each, and will be able to apply to extra compensation if they are diagnosed with PTSD or another stress related condition.
What was the lawsuit about?
The original class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook in 2018 by a contractor, Selena Scola. She said employees of the company developed PTSD after frequently viewing disturbing or violent content such as suicides, beheadings, and animal cruelty.
She said she developed psychological symptoms after nine months of viewing this content. And, under California law, employers are required to provide a safe working environment.
The court found the psychological trauma caused was in breach of this law.
The Superior Court of the State of California has approved the claim and it’s believed over half the claimants may be eligible for additional compensation for mental health issues linked to their employment at Facebook.
According to the lawyers, this compensation could be up to $50,000 in cases of severe trauma.
Steve Williams, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement, “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.”
What happens next?
Facebook has, as part of the settlement, agreed to make changes to its working practices to make sure it protects the health of content moderators.
This includes making changes to process, such as muting audio by default and changing videos to black and white.
In addition, any employees that view distressing content on a regular basis will be provided with weekly counselling sessions and monthly group therapy.
The company said it’s “grateful to the people who do this important work to make Facebook a safe environment for everyone” and added that it is “committed to providing them additional support through this settlement and in the future.”