“Nowadays everybody has access to the internet," an instructor at a content moderation center in India says in a new documentary short, “and if it is not controlled well, it becomes a porn factory."
The Moderators is a 20-minute film about the training process for content moderators who police Facebook, dating sites, and other platforms for fraud, violence, and obscenity. Middle finger in a profile picture? Not acceptable. Using a fake photo? Also unacceptable. Posting a photo of a small child with cuts and bruises on her face, or a woman whose throat has been slit open? Not allowed.
The film calls them the moderators, but they’re more like the protectors. Young men and women in places like India and the Philippines, many of whom are doing paid work for the first time, sift through roughly 2,000 images an hour, looking for things users should be shielded from. They take their task very seriously, and they should; they are at the frontline of the fight against child pornography, and they are the ones who save lovesick users from buying a plane ticket for a scammer who has conned them through a dating site.