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"The Cleaners" (or The price of a "clean" internet)


Active Member
The other month, I watched a documentary by Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck called "The Cleaners." The documentary focuses on how major social media platforms and search engines use outsourced companies in places like the Philippines to manually sort through images and videos that are posted to "ignore" (keep on the site) or "delete."

These individuals (according to the doc) have a target to hit 25,000 images/videos a shift that could include things from selfies and family events to illegal porn, torture, war, and historical events in the making. These contracted employees have strict guidelines and no voice for their mental health or concerns. The documentary follows multiple employees from different perspectives who like moderating, hate it, and have committed suicide over the content they have to endure.

There are many levels to this topic. Who decides what are the content policies to these platforms? Who is suffering so Europeans/Americans can enjoy a "clean and safe" internet? How do we handle these issues when there is no algorithm that can filter this for us? What responsibility do major companies have when outsourcing their dirty filtering work to less fortunate countries?

Most importantly, do you know who you're trusting to shape your world view based on the approved or deleted content you see?

I don't have a specific question on this topic. Rather, I'm throwing this out there to see if anyone else has thoughts or is already familiar with this topic. How do we handle disturbing and inhumane content as humans before we can trust computers with it? Should we make platforms more open and free? Target the horrible things to few people? Let the horrible things be posted and let people handle it on a case by case basis?

TED Talk:

Rent the Doc ($3 USD): Watch The Cleaners Online | Vimeo On Demand

If you are truly interested in this but cannot rent it, let me know.


While I was not a moderator to that extreme, I did moderate for a website that got hit regularly with trolls from the dark web who thought it was hilarious to post extreme imagery all the way from real life gore to illegal imagery (child porn, animal rape, etc). Kids as young as 13 were allowed on that site and were exposed to these things. I think I lasted like 9 or 10 months, then had to quit. Some of those images will never escape my brain and I hope the worst for the people who exposed me to them. I feel extremely sorry for anyone who has to process images like that for a living. I can handle gore ok, I've seen enough Saw and the like to tolerate it. Anything involving sex crimes though, I don't deal well with that shit.

Some of these images, unfortunately, need to involve law enforcement and thus can't be entirely deleted from the internet until all necessary info is gained from them. It is, of course, the worst of the worst that this is true of. Someone has to go through that content. I don't know what these people get paid, but I imagine not enough to make it worthwhile.


Indie Game Artist / Telegram: vinfang
In my unpopular opinion, I don't think facades are even needed.

The act of hiding these disturbing contents does not erase them from facts to myths. I stumbled up a lot of f-up contents on blogs and search engines back when there is less moderation on forums. I was just 10. The 18+ button doesn't do shxt. There is no stopping one's curiosity from taking sight on them for the 1st time. It is after that you learn to avoid certain keywords or filter them out mentally.

What I meant is - take a good look at FA's main site, I know they are all fiction, but there is still some very.very. disturbing contents on there. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all on there, and it didn't deteriorate most site visitors.

To me this is hypocritical, like a person who loves to eat meat, but cannot take glance of said animal being butchered, cut, and cooked at a wet market; or someone who finds whole chicken (with head and feet) gross at the grocery store, because they are not used to see certain body parts attached to a dead chicken.