TikTok content moderator sues company, alleging trauma from hours reviewing videos of rape and killings

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A content moderator who reviewed videos for TikTok is suing the social media company, alleging that it did not protect her from suffering psychological trauma after “constant” exposure to violent videos that showed sexual assault, beheadings, suicide and other graphic scenes. For as long as 12 hours each day, Candie Frazier and other moderators reviewed “extreme and graphic violence,” including videos of “genocide in Myanmar, mass shootings, children being raped, and animals being mutilated” in an effort to filter out such content from being viewed by TikTok users, according to the lawsuit. The legal action was filed in federal court in California last week against TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance. Frazier developed “significant psychological trauma including anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder” as a result of her exposure to the videos, according to the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status. The legal challenge, which alleges that TikTok violated California labor law by failing to provide a “safe work environment,” requests compensation for moderators who were exposed to the material. It also asks that TikTok and ByteDance provide mental health support and treatment to former and current moderators. Frazier is not a TikTok employee – she works for Telus International, a firm that provides workers to other businesses – but the lawsuit alleges that “ByteDance and TikTok control the means and manner in which content moderation occurred.”

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