A Facebook spokesperson said it was reviewing how Accenture provided resources to deal with stress, and added that drug and alcohol use on the job violates its contracts.The company sees hiring all content reviewers directly as a bad use of resources, said two people familiar with Facebook’s strategy who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. They added that using staffing firms allowed the company to avoid layoffs in the future.One argued that people have an idealized view of the career path once available at companies like Kodak, where janitors rose through the ranks to become vice presidents — while forgetting that, in their view, Kodak’s unsustainable cost structure left it unable to respond to changes in the market. Eventually, this person said, the company’s plan is to offload an increasing proportion of content moderation to automated systems. This echoes comments Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has made when employees have brought up content moderation to him in employee meetings.How much human intervention will be needed in the long run is a matter of debate. One content reviewer who has worked for Facebook through Accenture for several months says even over that span there’s a noticeable difference in how well automated filters catch fake accounts that act in particular ways. But new behaviours have already emerged to fool the computers. “There’s no way you could train a robot to understand those complexities,” he said.On Facebook’s message boards, employees said that the spectre of automating away content review jobs should make the company more sensitive to the lives of the humans doing the job in the meantime. “It seems like the least we could do is treat people well before they get replaced,” one of them wrote.Bloomberg.com In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Facebook Inc. rushed to expand efforts to police its platforms, trying to keep political misinformation, graphic violence, terrorist propaganda, and revenge porn off the products. This has entailed both new technology, and thousands of new workers. Facebook now has about 15,000 content reviewers, almost all of whom work not for Facebook itself but for staffing firms like Accenture and Cognizant.The company’s decision to outsource these operations has been a persistent concern for some full-time employees. After a group of content reviewers working at an Accenture facility in Austin, Texas complained in February about not being allowed to leave the building for breaks or answer personal phone calls at work, a wave of criticism broke out on internal messaging boards. “Why do we contract out work that’s obviously vital to the health of this company and the products we build,” wrote one Facebook employee. (Bloomberg News viewed dozens of messages about the topic, on the condition that it not publish the names of people involved.)A Facebook spokeswoman said there has been no change in policies at the facility in Austin, and that it is has been working with Accenture to ensure practices comply with Facebook policies. Accenture did not respond to a request for comment. Apple revokes Facebook’s app development credentials after latest data tracking revelations Facebook and Google’s multibillion dollar digital ad businesses expected to keep growing, despite privacy concerns Mark Zuckerberg says he’s going outside his comfort zone in 2019 to host regular discussions on tech The pressure on the company doesn’t seem likely to subside. Over the years, a stream of media reports have detailed one of the internet’s most dystopian jobs. The most recent example came on Monday, when the Verge published a lengthy account from several Cognizant employees working in Phoenix. They described the trauma of being presented with an endless procession of graphic violence and disturbing sexual activities, and said the restrictive working conditions further aggravated their stress.Legally, Facebook believes it is insulated from much of what goes on in the outsourcing centres like the ones in Austin and Phoenix. Selena Scola, a content moderator working for a company called Pro Unlimited sued Facebook in September, saying it was responsible for her post-traumatic stress disorder. In a court filing, the company responded by saying that Scola had no right to sue, because she was an independent contractor. It argued that any harm she suffered was either her own fault, or the fault of unnamed third parties. The case is pending.But legal cover isn’t the only consideration. Over the weekend, Facebook circulated an explanation on internal message boards trying to dispel employee concerns, and detailing how it planned to address questions about how staffing companies treat their employees. The message, posted publicly to Facebook’s blog on Monday, was written by Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations. It said that outsourcing content review was the only way it could scale quickly enough to meet its needs. “Given the size at which we operate and how quickly we’ve grown over the past couple of years, we will inevitably encounter issues we need to address on an ongoing basis,” he wrote.I don’t have a problem with nudity — that’s what I signed up for — but then there are random beheadingsanonymous Facebook moderator Jussi Nukari/AFP/Getty Images Facebook says it plans to review its contracts with staffing firms, requiring them to have adequate facilities and mental health resources. It also plans to make regular site visits to make sure staffing firms are adhering to the requirements. The company plans to do a wider review of its relationships with contracting firms, starting with a summit with vendors in April. “We will regularly evaluate these roles, our needs going forward, the risks, location, mix of the workforce, and many more areas,” wrote Osofsky.Even in the best of conditions, content review is a brutal job. Bloomberg news spoke with three current content moderators employed by Accenture and all of them requested anonymity because they had signed non-disclosure agreements. “It’s a strain. I don’t know what I’m going to see,” one said. “I don’t have a problem with nudity — that’s what I signed up for — but then there are random beheadings.” Another said that moderators periodically discuss their daily “body counts” — the number of dead bodies they see per shift.Facebook and Accenture both provide access to “wellness” resources to help moderators deal with the stress. Facebook is also running a pilot program at one facility that offers virtual reality-based treatments for stress, a strategy that has proven effective in other contexts.All three content moderators who spoke to Bloomberg News said they were reluctant to come forward for help. “Because of the whole contractor situation, they can fire you for any reason,” says one of them. One said he tried meditation to deal with the stress of the job; another said he regularly visited Reddit pages featuring cute animal photos. Many reviewers attempt to pay as little attention to their work as possible, either by listening to music or streaming movies as they work. Alcohol and marijuana use is common both on and off the premises, they said.An Accenture office in Finland. read more


first_imgCertain recent news reports have suggested that the world is running out of certain essential metals, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS). However, they “are just scaremongering,” say scientists from the organisation. The basis for these stories is the idea that we have reached ‘peak metal’ – that we have used more than is now available to mine – but they ignore some very basic facts about the science and economics of mineral deposits within the Earth’s crust. Andrew Bloodworth from the BGS said “We are unlikely to run out of metal as long as we continue to invest in the science needed to identify where new mineral deposits can be found, and to use what we already have more efficiently. These unfounded concerns deflect attention from more pressing issues regarding our use of resources from the Earth”.Subscribers to ‘peak metal’ correlate declining production with serious depletion of metals in the Earth. Experience of the last 200 years suggests otherwise. Metal production is highly cyclical, with intermittent peaks and troughs which are closely linked to economic cycles. Declining production is generally driven by falling demand and prices, not by scarcity.The total stock of metal in the earth’s crust is finite, but it is also extremely large. The stocks of metal for which we know the precise location, tonnage and which we can extract economically with existing technology (reserves) are tiny in comparison to the total amount. Together with production data, ‘peak metal’ advocates tend to use these reserve figures as a basis for their calculations, despite the fact that both production and reserves are continually changing in response to movements in markets and scientific advances.In the longer term, advances in science and technology mean that we are getting better at finding and extracting metals – a significant proportion of global uranium reserves are in a single deposit in Australia which was unknown 30 years ago. For these reasons the use of reserve and production data to predict ‘peak metal’ is highly dubious as these figures are closely related to the state of the global economy and scientific and technological advancement.Bloodworth said “As the global population grows and more people aspire to improved standards of living, continued scientific research will help ensure that future demand for metal is met by a combination of new resources in the Earth, better recycling of metals in our society and from more efficient end-use. That is essentially doing more with less. For example, in 1985, 1 kg of aluminium made 46 drinks cans. Today the same amount makes 70 cans. This shows how we can become much more efficient in our everyday use of metals. The big catch is that this needs to be done without compromising our environment, so we also need science to break the link between our use of metals and greenhouse gas emissions.’last_img read more