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Details of Facebook content moderators’ non-disclosure agreements revealed

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A non-disclosure agreement given to Facebook content moderators requires them to keep information confidential from friends and family members even after they have left their role.

The agreement (NDA) presented to moderators working for Covalen – a division of the CPL group and one of two companies, along with Accenture, providing outsourced moderators to Facebook – “reminds” them that their “confidentiality obligations will survive termination of employment”.

A copy of such an NDA, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that moderators must “keep all information concerning the company, its customers, third parties, and any other connected organisation(s) absolutely confidential, which includes avoiding divulging confidential information to any members of the public or family members”.

“Any deliberate breach of confidentiality may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal,” the agreement states, adding that the use of mobile phones during training “is strictly prohibited”.

“By signing this agreement you expressly acknowledge and agree that you have carefully read it and fully understands (sic) what it means,” it concludes.

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The use of non disclosure agreements with content moderators has come in for criticism in recent weeks due to the alleged “chilling effect”, in the words of Fionnuala Ni Bhrogain of the Communications Workers Union, they have on employees asserting their labour rights.

A spokesperson for the company said:

 “As with every other commercial organisation, Covalen requires sensitive business information to remain confidential.”

They added that all prospective Covalen employees are expected to sign an NDA and return it by email before commencing their role.

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“Therefore, the impression that employees do not receive a copy of such agreements is completely inaccurate and untrue,” they said regarding allegations that employees have not been able to see the NDAs they have signed.

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Content moderators are used by all social media companies to sift through potentially unacceptable content and flag same as inappropriate for publication. Such content can include the depiction of bullying, hate speech, graphic violence, death, and child exploitation. Video sharing app TikTok recently became the first social media outlet to offer moderators full contracts of employment.

Outsourced moderators in Facebook’s case are typically paid a deal less than direct employees of the tech giant. Facebook employs some 15,000 such moderators around the world.

One such worker, Irish woman Isabella Plunkett, recently told an Oireachtas committee of the “horrible lucid dreams” she had experienced as a result of her work. She said she has been “taking anti-depressants for months… because of the content”.

Foxglove, a legal non-profit representing moderators in their quest for better working conditions, this week wrote to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stating that the assertion that those workers have full access to their own NDAs “appears to us to be misleading”.

“Multiple moderators have reported signing documents that they were not sent copies of,” that letter states. “If this practice has changed in response to queries from the news media, we welcome this modest reform,” it says, adding that outsourcing companies should be “asked to confirm on the record that content moderators have the right to speak publicly about workplace conditions without fear of reprisal”.

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Mr Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, told the same Oireachtas committee that the Health and Safety Authority “has its role” when it comes to the working conditions of content moderators.

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“It is a job which humans have to do, and a human brain has human emotions,” he said, adding that while he hasn’t met with Facebook in recent months it is something he would “take an interest in going forward”.

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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