Some Facebook moderators can work from home after protests

Meta’s in-house staff won’t have to return to the office in the coming months, but some of its hired workers are only now getting a similar reprieve. BuzzFeed News has learned that subcontractor Accenture has lifted a requirement that hundreds of Facebook moderators return to personal work in Mountain View, California, by January 24. The original plan, provided to moderators in late December, would have forced about 400 people to work close together, while the highly contagious Omicron strain of COVID-19 is likely still rampant.

The announcement sparked public and private protests against the decision, including “nearly a dozen” threats to resign, BuzzFeed said. The moderators said it was impossible to enforce Accenture’s social distancing requirements given its densely packed offices, closed stairwells and poor enforcement, and that the company did not offer waivers for immunocompromised employees or vulnerable family members.

An Accenture spokesperson confirmed that moderators who work from home “should continue to do so” based on health data from COVID-19, claiming the company was “working together” to accommodate individuals in accordance with the law. Meta, meanwhile, said it would “continue to prioritize” the health and safety of all employees. Meta’s own employees can postpone the return to the office until June.

These concerns are not strictly new. In 2020, moderators accused Meta (then Facebook) of endangering lives by asking some contractors to work from the office, even when family members were highly vulnerable. Meta disputed some of the claims at the time, but not all of them. This also comes after a $52 million settlement with moderators who said they developed PTSD and other mental health problems while screening harmful material. However, this latest incident suggests that Meta still hasn’t shaken off concerns about the well-being of his moderation teams.

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