Facebook content moderation firm forced on-site therapists to disclose counseling details with employees, according to report
- Due to the sensitive material they must interact with, Facebook's 1,500 on-contract content moderators working in Austin, Texas are entitled to free on-site trauma counseling.
- On at least some occassions, managers with Accenture - Facebook's contractor who hires and manages the content moderators - has pressured therapists to disclose what happened during counseling sessions with moderators, according to a new report from the Intercept.
- At least one therapist has reportedly resigned over an incident.
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Facebook's moderators may not be able to fully trust their company-appointed counselors to keep their secrets.
That's according to a new report from the Intercept which suggests that Accenture - the contractor Facebook has employed to hire and manage their 1,500 content moderators in Austin, Texas - may be able to ask these therapists what the employees have said at any given time.Moderating content on Facebook is a very sensitive job and requires these employees to view sometimes disturbing things like pornography and graphic violence before deciding if it can stay on the website or if it violates Facebook's content rules.
That's why Accenture and Facebook have on-site therapists - called "wellness coaches" - for employees who may need help processing what they have seen before it causes further psychological damage or harm. These sessions were understood by both the therapists and the moderator employees to be confidential, but a letter written by a group of employees and obtained by the Intercept suggests Accenture management can ask at any time what goes on in these sessions - and has on multiple occasions.
"It has come to our attention that an Accenture [manager] pressured a WeCare licensed counselor to divulge the contents of their session with an Accenture employee," the letter reads.
The letter also claims that at least one therapist has resigned after being asked to divulge contents of a counseling session with a moderator.
Facebook did not respond immediately to Business Insider's request for comment, but a Facebook spokesperson told the Intercept:"All of our partners must provide a resiliency plan that is reviewed and approved by Facebook. This includes a holistic approach to well being and resiliency that puts the needs of their employees first. All leaders and wellness coaches receive training on this employee resource and while we do not believe that there was a breach of privacy in this case, we have used this as an opportunity to reemphasize that training across the organization."
Accenture's statement used stronger terms, outright denying the allegations laid out in the letter:
"These allegations are inaccurate. Our people's wellbeing is our top priority and our trust-and-safety teams in Austin have unrestricted access to wellness support. Additionally, our wellness program offers proactive and on-demand counseling and is backed by a strong employee assistance program. Our people are actively encouraged to raise wellness concerns through these programs. We also review, benchmark and invest in our wellness programs on an ongoing basis to create the most supportive workplace environment - regularly seeking input from industry experts, medical professionals and our people."