Culture

Facebook mods are getting forced to physically return to work

Employees of a third-party contractor, Accenture, are being told they could be back in their physical offices as soon as October 12.

Social distancing at office workstation. Employees are working together on desk with maintaining distance for covid 19 virus. Vector illustration of workstation signage.
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Despite the President swearing COVID-19 is almost beaten, news of him contracting the virus and subsequently being hospitalized would seem to (shockingly) contradict his past statements on the matter. But he isn't the only one in denial, apparently: Accenture, a third-party content moderation company employed by Facebook, is reportedly forcing workers back into physical offices later this month.

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Contradictory and cruel information — In a company-wide online town hall meeting yesterday, Accenture management informed hundreds of their contractors that they could be expected to return to work on October 12, despite giving no clear reasoning for the change in pandemic policy and taking no questions from its workforce. This also directly contradicts an official statement issued to its employees on Monday, which promised "only essential workers" should expect to return soon, and "slowly" at that. Contractors have been able to work remotely since March, but according to sources with The Verge, they will now be made to return to the Austin, Texas, and California offices en masse, with no apparent staggering enforced.

Both Facebook and Accenture contend that the contractors' work is simply too sensitive to continue remotely, and needs to be done in an office setting. The Verge's source also relayed that Accenture asserts it will take precautions during this transition such as requiring masks in the office place, limiting elevator capacities, regularly cleaning high-contact surfaces, enforce social distancing, and take employees' temperatures.

But despite the stated safety measures, sources indicate that an Accenture employee contracted COVID-19 from an office location less than two weeks ago. As such, employees are circulating an internal document demanding a 50 percent wage increase, coverage of all COVID-19 testing, and paid sick leave should they contract the virus. "Because much of our work is too sensitive to be done at home, there has been a recent push from management to return to working in the office... Accenture has a responsibility to take care of employees that put themselves at risk," the statement at one point reads.

Contractors demanding what they deserve — Most Accenture employees are Facebook moderators infamously exposed daily to graphic and even traumatic content while reviewing what is and isn't allowed on the social media site, prompting adverse mental health consequences including PTSD.

Facebook is facing increased scrutiny in recent months over its handling of harmful postings and the spread of electoral and pandemic-related misinformation, and is apparently eager to step up its moderating capacities. Now, to keep up with demand, Accenture's contractors are staring down a far more frightening and potentially dangerous work situation than most of Facebook's full-time employees, who have a permanent remote work option, and do not need to inform the company of their longterm office locations until at least July 2021.

While long-suffering workers are being unnecessarily put in harm's way, Facebook isn't doing much better on other fronts, either. The social media giant is still a key part for the QAnon conspiracy cult's rise in popularity, continuously helps promote election misinformation, so the least it could do is help out some of its hardest-working employees.