Facebook will increase the hourly pay rate for thousands of contract workers across the United States, the company said today. Its base rate for contractors will rise from $15 an hour to $18, with slightly higher raises in cities with higher costs of living. The changes will go into effect by the middle of next year, the company said, and it will explore bringing similar raises to other sites around the world.
The move comes after reporting from The Verge and others on the long-term impact of working as a contract moderator for Facebook, which has left some workers with symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
In a blog post the company said: “Today we’re committing to pay everyone who does contract work at Facebook in the US a wage that’s more reflective of local costs of living. And for those who review content on our site to make sure it follows our community standards, we’re going even further. We’re going to provide them a higher base wage, additional benefits, and more supportive programs given the nature of their jobs.”
Workers in larger metropolitan areas will get raises as well: from $18 to $20 an hour in Seattle and from $20 to $22 an hour in the Bay Area, New York City, and Washington, DC.
In February, The Verge reported that Facebook contractors in Phoenix are suffering from long-term mental health issues after working as content moderators. Their jobs require them to view a steady stream of violent and disturbing content, and several moderators told us they continued to struggle with PTSD-like symptoms. Other moderators told us that the work had made them more likely to believe in the fringe conspiracy theories that they encountered each day at work.
In response, Facebook said it would now require its vendors to provide on-site counseling during all hours of operation, rather than only during the day shift. It will also begin surveying contractors about their mental health twice a year “and use the results to shape our programs and practices,” the company said.
Moderators will now be able to blur graphic images by default before viewing them, so they are not caught unawares by disturbing content.
“Content review at our size can be challenging and we know we have more work to do,” the company said. “We’re committed to supporting our content reviewers in a way that puts their well-being first and we will continue to share steps forward on this important topic.”