Cognizant plans 'wellness practices' for traumatised staff on Facebook duty

Cognizant plans 'wellness practices' for traumatised staff on Facebook duty

After a report claimed that content moderators at Facebook, traumatised by harsh working conditions and little emotional support, have resorted to drugs and having sex at workplace, solution provider Cognizant said it is developing "the next generation of wellness practices" for such employees.

A report in The Verge revealed that nearly 1,000 Cognizant employees at its Phoenix, Arizona, office -- tasked with vetting Facebook posts flagged for pornographic material, graphic violence or hate speech -- have been told "not to discuss the emotional toll that their job takes on them, even with loved ones, leading to increased feelings of isolation and anxiety".

This led these low-earning employees smoke weed, spout conspiracy theories and "having sex inside stairwells, the parking garage and a room reserved for lactating mothers".

Reacting to the report, Cognizant told CRN late Tuesday that it has investigated the specific workplace issues raised in a recent report.

"In addition to offering a comprehensive wellness programme at Cognizant, including a safe and supportive work culture, 24x7 phone support and onsite counselor support to employees, Cognizant has partnered with leading [human resources] and wellness consultants to develop the next generation of wellness practices," the company was quoted as saying.

The Verge report said that Facebook has more than 30,000 employees working on safety and security -- about half of whom are content moderators.

"The use of contract labour also has a practical benefit for Facebook: it is radically cheaper. The median Facebook employee earns $240,000 annually in salary, bonuses, and stock options.

"A content moderator working for Cognizant in Arizona, on the other hand, will earn just $28,800 per year," the report claimed.

In September last year, a former content moderator at Facebook sued the company alleging that moderators who face mental trauma after reviewing distressing images on the platform are not being properly protected by the social networking giant.

"Ex-contractor Selena Scola has sued Facebook for allegedly aignoring its duty' to protect moderators who deal with mental trauma after seeing disturbing imagery.

"Rather than create a safe environment, it's producing a "revolving door of contractors' who are permanently scarred by what they've seen", Scola's lawyer Korey Nelson was quoted as saying in Engadget.

According to the lawsuit, moderators at the social media giant under contract are "bombarded" with thousands of videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder.

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Source: IANS