Being told by Google to watch child porn, body mutilations, and beheading videos is potentially the worst job in the world

With the rise of the social Internet comes the rise of questionable content. Much of this questionable content must be removed by companies once it is posted by users, some due to government mandates (e.g. child pornography) while others due to their gruesome nature (e.g. body mutilations). Before someone can remove these photos/videos, the photos/videos must be viewed otherwise it cannot be known if they warrant removal. Some people at Google, the company that sees millions upon millions of photos and videos pass through its services, have the lucky job of getting to view these photos/videos prior to removal.

According to a former Google contractor who held the position for a year (Google hires third-party contractors on one year contracts to do these jobs), he had to review “things like bestiality, necrophilia, body mutilations (gore, shock, beheadings, suicides), explicit fetishes (like diaper porn) and child pornography” on a daily basis. By his estimate, he probably saw 15,000 images a day. He knows someone that reviewed beheading videos on Youtube 8-10 hours a day. Fun, right? I just hope they were paid more than minimum wage.

Surprisingly enough, for being a company that likes to offer perks to its employees, Google doesn’t appear to care much about its contractors. According to the above-mentioned former Google contractor, Google does not offer any emotional assistance to people doing these jobs; Google only pays for one session of therapy. One session of therapy for someone that watches the literal shit of the Internet for a year.

To make matters worse, Google seemingly terminates all contractors hired to do this job after a year, without so much of an explanation as to why. (Yes the former Google contractor being discussed was terminated after a year, too.) For what it is worth, Google has a policy that any contractor that works at Google for longer than a year must be made a full-time employee. My guess is Google doesn’t want the legal liability that may go with giving this job to a full-time employee, which is why they let people go after a year.

I realize that sitting in an air conditioned office and watching photos/videos (as gruesome, horrifying, and distasteful they might be) may not be as bad as what some people have to do to simply put food in their mouths. Still, this is has got to be one of the worst jobs I have heard of. Pity the person who is desperate enough to take this.

[via ArsTechnica, BuzzFeed | Image via BuzzFeed]

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6 comments

  1. meldasue

    I don’t know that someone would have to be desperate – it’s a necessary evil. YouTube is an important platform for people living under tyranny, so it’s important that videos don’t get deleted simply because someone flags them. On the other hand, Google is a company and they have the right to determine what they will and will not allow (and some of this stuff is illegal, at least in the US – not everything is protected by free speech). So, someone’s got to determine what is truly objectionable.

    I can see the liability issues, though – not just in terms of a work comp claim (I work in insurance and have seen plenty of emotional stress claims, particularly in California). You’ve also got the potential for some guy to go off on a killing spree, as in ‘Bob watched x hours of beheading videos and went postal’. (I don’t think the watching would make him do it – Bob is obviously disturbed in the first place. But they would try to sue Google for it.)

  2. Shava Nerad

    @Ashraf:

    Well, I kind of understand that, Ashraf. But people will take it literally, and there are a lot of geeks (and I used the word with utmost respect) out there who really don’t think about what happens on the ground. Virtual life/virtual worlds: it’s the new ivory tower.

    My former job (execdir at torproject.org) brought me into contact with a lot of really amazing people on all sides of law enforcement and its detractors, and its detractors’ detractors, and gave me a whole new complicated set of feelings of appreciation and respect and disgust as appropriate, sometimes all around (unfortunately).

    But what I saw was that there is a heck of a lot of good folks trying to make things better out there, with varying success, largely unrecognized and often very isolated from greater society in their work and lives. And a lot of that isn’t necessary and it’s a pity.

    And they aren’t — most of them — someone you can properly appreciate with a tweet. Sometimes the most important thing in your life has got to be to step away from the keyboard. So just sayin’

  3. Shava Nerad

    Frankly, I suspect that this job is less wearing than being an EMT or any kind of first responder who has immediate contact with physical mutilations and so on. Or a prison chaplain. Or psychiatric hospital nurse. Or dementia care CNA. Or even moderator on the typical MMORPG forum as a customer service rep for the game company — eating the flames of angry gamers all day and trying to keep things civil, while eating your pride and representing a company you may or may not agree with.

    Yes, you are seeing the dregs of the ephemera of the Internet but you are not having to deal with the people directly who produced the stuff. You have no responsibility to actually face them down. They can’t call you at 3am to argue with you about your judgement on their art or images or whatever as to its legality or merits, or just to call you nasty names or breathe and hang up.

    Also, the people who want you to judge more harshly aren’t gong to call you up and berate you for the things you let through — other people who are Google employees will take that heat.

    But yes, having worked in a couple hospitals when I was younger? If you think this is one of the worst jobs, you simply haven’t really through through what some of the very common jobs in your community are really like, IMO, and you might want to go find an EMT (or someone similar) and thank them.

    Better yet, find your local vice squad and bake them cookies. They hunt down the jerks who actually make this crap and put them in jail, often coming into harm’s way in the process.

    The world is not virtual. Remember the people who get their hands dirty.