Moderator Sues TikTok Over 'Extreme' Videos She Watched

Candie Frazier says she suffered psychological trauma over 'graphic' content she had to view
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2021 10:10 AM CST
Moderator Sues TikTok Over 'Extreme' Videos She Watched
The TikTok app logo is seen in Tokyo on Sept. 28, 2020.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

(Newser) – As part of her job for Canadian tech company TELUS International, Candie Frazier sifted through videos for TikTok, serving as a third-party moderator to make sure the most disturbing content didn't stay online. Now Frazier is suing, with a complaint she hopes will go class action, accusing the social media company of not doing a good enough job of protecting her from suffering psychological trauma as a result of the violent content she was forced to watch while clocked in, reports the Washington Post.

According to the complaint filed last week in California Central District Court against TikTok and parent company ByteDance, Frazier says she spent up to 12 hours daily moderating videos for the platform, during which time she was exposed to "thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence," per the Verge. Those acts included child rape, mass shootings, animals being mutilated, Myanmar genocide, gang murder, and cannibalism, among others, per Frazier's suit.

The pace of this workday was also frenetic and demanding, Frazier claims, noting in her complaint that she'd sometimes have to watch up to 10 videos at a time—and with just 25 seconds to make a moderation call—with not very many breaks during long work shifts. Frazier says in her suit that, as a result of this type of work, she suffered "severe psychological trauma including depression and symptoms associated with anxiety and PTSD, " such as insomnia and panic attacks. Frazier's lawyer also says the company retaliated against his client after she filed suit on Dec. 23, including by placing her on leave and taking away her work equipment, per the Sacramento Bee.

Frazier is seeking compensation for herself and moderators like her, more technical safeguards, and mental health resources for both former and current moderators. TikTok isn't commenting on Frazier's suit specifically, but a spokesperson said in a statement that its ongoing goal is "a caring working environment for our employees and our contractors," and that it plans to keep enhancing its current "wellness services." Meanwhile, a rep for TELUS International—the company that sends Frazier her paychecks but which wasn't named in the suit—says in a statement that it has a "robust resiliency and mental health program in place" for its moderators and strives for a "positive online environment." (Read more TikTok stories.)

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