Rapes, beheadings, self-mutilation by depressed young people: Facebook’s urge to grow is so big that their employees burn out after viewing such images.

By Pieter Beens

“For every like, I will not eat for five hours #sad #sad girl #fear #anorexia #depression #eating disorder #dead #late me.”

A desperate young woman shares the above message. It is one of thousands passing through the renovated Siemens factory complex in Spandau every day. Content moderators work in shifts to filter an incessant stream of reported posts to keep Facebook fun for its users. The content: child pornography, videos of suicide, failed challenges, beheadings. The salary: 8.90 euros per hour. The average duration of employment: a few months. Intense images and poor employee guidance are a guarantee for many post-traumatic stress disorders.

Who are these people who sacrifice their mental health for a meager wage?

They are fathers and mothers, desperate job seekers and a decayed workforce, Sjarrel de Charon writes in The Flipside of Facebook, which was released last year. Driven by the promise of financial security or curiosity, content moderators go to Arvato Bertelsmann, Accenture or Cognizant. Facebook uses these three employment agencies to clean up the social medium for next to nothing. Giving up is often not an option: no job means no bread. To make ends meet every month, the employees combine their work at the Facebook cleaning team with various other (cleaning) jobs. They do not have job security: Facebook has already moved part of the work to Manila, where cheap labor does the dirty work for an even poorer wage.