Moderating social media posts is a tough gig. When you are dealing with the population of an entire planet, it is certain that some people are going to post some of the most abhorrent material imaginable. It is the job of the moderator to protect the regular users from this material by bringing it down before anybody gets a chance to see it. This, however, brings with it its own set of problems and some TikTok moderators have been raising serious concerns. Let’s take a look at this in a bit more detail.
TikTok moderators working for a third-party company called Teleperformance claim that they have been asked to view a disturbing spreadsheet that details content that violates TikTok’s guidelines, including hundreds of images of children being abused to ensure that they know what needs to be taken down. Further to the concerns this raises for the mental well-being of the moderators themselves, they are also raising the alarm about a potential leak of the highly sensitive material as the spreadsheet is available to hundreds of people both at TikTok and Teleperformance.
This news has come to light following a report by Forbes into how TikTok handles child sexual abuse materials, which raises some frightening concerns about practices at the world’s biggest app. The report quotes on moderator as saying, “I was moderating and thinking: This is someone’s son. This is someone’s daughter. And these parents don’t know that we have this picture, this video, this trauma, this crime saved. If parents knew that, I’m pretty sure they would burn TikTok down.”
According to the report, moderators have simply been unable to keep up with the growth of TikTok, which has meant moderation efforts have often fallen outside of company policy. This led to the somewhat haphazard attitude described above being applied to training materials, which even caused employees to contact the FBI to ensure that they weren’t guilty of distributing images of abuse.
Unfortunately, moderators of all social networks will be exposed to harmful material, but it is the data privacy issues in this case that make it stand out. If the accusations are correct TikTok will have to shore up these potential data leaks that could see highly sensitive and inappropriate materials leaking onto the internet. Recently Meta had to pay out $90 million for privacy violations.