Facebook moderators, employed by third-party contractors, have been trying to expose poor working conditions for years, and their opposition has grown during the pandemic as many in forced to return to the office and almost no safety net. But the hosts of the Spanish-language version said they faced even worse treatment than their English-centric colleagues.
At the offices of Meta subcontractor Genpact in Richardson, Texas, Spanish-language moderators told BuzzFeed News that they have been required to report to the office since April 2021, despite a spike in COVID infections caused by the emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants. All over America. During this time, moderators reviewing English-language content were allowed to rotate in the office for three months, they said.
“At the office…it’s a nightmare,” one host said.
BuzzFeed News interviewed three members of Genpact’s so-called Mexican marketing team, who described a pattern of unfair treatment of Spanish-language moderators. All of these people requested anonymity because Genpact requires them to sign non-disclosure agreements and because they are concerned about their jobs. Apart from reporting to the office for the past nine months while their English counterparts can work from home, Spanish moderators have unrealistic standards of performance and are not compensated for working in two languages, which they say is more time consuming. In addition, they are under pressure to manage the Facebook market, which has long been criticized for being under-managed amid the threat of brisk COVID cases.
Genpact spokeswoman Danielle D’Angelo declined to comment on any specific claims made by Spanish-language moderators, including claims that its Mexico marketing team was not allowed to work from home while other teams were rotated.
“We would like to emphasize that employee safety is our number one priority, and has been and will continue to be throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” D’Angelo said. “Any decision to return to the office based on client needs is made at the best of Safety and health practices and in compliance with local regulations. We follow top-notch safety standards in all of our workplaces, including our Richardson, Texas office, which includes frequent antigen testing .”
On Thursday, the manager of the Genpact Richardson plant reportedly told company agents that it had scrapped plans to reopen at 50% capacity on Jan. 31 because of the Omicron variant. The hosts of the Spanish-language version said the change would not affect them and they would continue to report to the office. Genpact declined to comment on when it plans to reopen and in what capacity.
In late June, Genpact leadership sent an email to one of the English-language review teams, who had been allowed to rotate out of the office, thanking them for their “continued dedication and responsiveness.” They will return to work from home on July 26, the email said.
Spanish-language moderators told BuzzFeed News they had not received such an email. A few days after the English-language hosts were told they could go home,”[managers] Tell us we’re a dedicated cohort and our work can’t be done outside the office,” one moderator said, noting that the Mexican market typically involves moderating a lot of particularly graphic content. Facebook declined to address its Spanish-language moderator’s complaint Comments, referring BuzzFeed News to Genpact — a tactic it has taken time and time again when addressing the concerns of those who make a living by curating Facebook content.
Since returning to Richardson’s office, employees have grown increasingly concerned for their safety. The host told BuzzFeed News that management reported 30 cases of COVID to employees in December, and no updates have been communicated since. Meanwhile, workers said their colleagues continued to test positive for COVID, citing two cases on the ground floor last week. Genpact declined to comment on the number of COVID cases in its offices and how often they are reported to employees.
On Dec. 22, a dozen Spanish-language moderators left the office en masse after learning through the grapevine that a sick colleague might have exposed them to the virus. The workers used the PTO to self-isolate as they claimed that Genpact did not currently offer paid sick leave to its moderators. Genpact declined to comment on whether its moderators receive paid sick leave.
Although named after the Mexican market, the team also reviewed Facebook and Instagram content posted in Spanish by users in most of Latin America, the moderator said.As of 2018, there are 84 million Facebook users There are also tens of millions of people using WhatsApp in Mexico.In Latino and Hispanic communities, Facebook has been a strong carrier of misinformation, Shaping public opinion on topics such as COVID, electoral politics, and Black Lives Matter.But researchers who study misinformation told the Guardian Harmful content posted in Spanish is removed less frequently than posts in English.
Genpact began building the team in early 2020, initially by sourcing volunteers from other existing departments, members told BuzzFeed News.
An unnamed host told BuzzFeed News: “Genpact takes everyone with a name that sounds a little like Hispanic to take a Spanish test, and if they fail, they’re asked to take it again,” he worries. They could face retaliation for speaking out about it. Internal company affairs.
Employees claim that hosts who were not fluent in Spanish were forced into the position as a result, and many failed to meet performance expectations and were subsequently fired. Currently, the Mexican market team consists of approximately 50 people.
But even workers who are proficient in Spanish can be overwhelmed by standards they deem unreasonable. For example, moderators should maintain an 85% accuracy rate while adhering to a 66-second “processing time” or time frame for making decisions on content. While these thresholds may be sensible for one language, navigating bilingualism may take more time. Moderators say they have to translate the Facebook guidelines (which are only distributed in English) into Spanish before applying them. They added that a large number of posts by other users in Mexico and Latin America also contained English, forcing them to switch between languages on a regular basis. Genpact declined to comment on how Spanish-language moderators are evaluated and paid. Facebook did not respond to inquiries about the language of its guidelines.
The pandemic has caused Facebook moderators at several outsourcing companies to organize around issues such as paid sick leave, hazard pay and a class system that separates contract workers from salaried tech workers. Last week, after initially ordering its Facebook moderators to return to the office, Accenture abruptly allowed them to work from home, After a BuzzFeed news query.
Although Facebook has never publicly disclosed how many users it has across Latin America, its platform and apps as an important public utility for citizens of many of these countries. Genpact’s Spanish-language moderators feel the pressure, saying that despite the importance of their work, they are the smallest team in the office.
Facebook spokeswoman Kadia Koroma said the company uses “a combination of technology and people to stop content that violates our rules from entering our platform, and while artificial intelligence has made progress in this area, people are a critical part of our security efforts.” Spanish is one of the most spoken languages on Facebook, and comments in Spanish are made 24 hours a day on several sites around the world, the company said.
Moderators who returned to the office in April believe this is due to midterm elections in mexico, in June. “We thought, well, let the election pass,” said one host. Throughout 2021, English moderators have been rotated. The Mexican market team thinks it’s the same for them.
“Then a week before we were supposed to be rotated, we got an email that said, ‘Thanks for your hard work, but unfortunately the Mexican market will remain the same,'” they added. Facebook declined to comment on how it interacts with subcontractors that manage specific moderate markets.
“We know these jobs can be difficult, which is why we work closely with our partners to continually assess how best to support these teams,” Koroma said.