Content Moderators Reach Class Settlement
with Facebook for $52 Million
A $52 million settlement has been reached in a groundbreaking lawsuit alleging that Facebook failed to properly protect content moderators, who were employed by Facebook’s vendors and responsible for viewing and removing disturbing, graphic and objectionable images and videos from Facebook’s social media platform.
The settlement provides significant monetary relief to more than 10,000 current and former content moderators who worked for Facebook’s vendors in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. The workplace improvements apply to any U.S.-based content moderation operations for Facebook.
Filed in state court in California in September 2018, the lawsuit alleged that those who performed content moderation work on behalf of Facebook were denied protection against severe psychological and other injuries which can result from repeated exposure to graphic content such as child sexual abuse, beheadings, terrorism, animal cruelty, and other disturbing images. The lawsuit sought to provide content moderators with mental health screening, treatment, and compensation and to require Facebook to improve their working conditions.
The settlement agreement achieves each of these goals, providing monetary relief in the amount of $1,000 to every member of the class. In addition, class members diagnosed with specified conditions as a result of their work will receive a payment that can go to medical treatment for that condition and, depending on the amount remaining in the settlement fund after screening and treatment payments, may be eligible for additional damage awards of up to $50,000.
Above and beyond this compensation, Facebook has agreed to take significant measures to provide U.S.-based content moderators employed by Facebook’s vendors with a safer work environment. These measures include requiring Facebook’s vendors to provide coaching sessions with licensed mental health counselors and other mental-health support, as well as enhancing review tools designed to make content moderators’ work safer.
Co-lead counsel, Steve Williams of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm in San Francisco said, “We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented program to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago. The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe. This settlement will provide meaningful relief, and I am so proud to have been part of it.”
Daniel Charest of Burns Charest LLP in Dallas, another co-lead counsel, said “This groundbreaking litigation fixed a major workplace problem involving developing technology and its impact on real workers who suffered in order to make Facebook safer for its users. Ultimately, the settlement is a great result for the class members.”
The lawsuit is Scola v. Facebook Inc., No. 18-CIV05135, filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Mateo. The plaintiffs have filed a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. If the court grants the motion, class members will receive notice. Following that notice, the plaintiffs intend to file a motion for final approval.