This is the brutal cost of keeping the internet less terrible

Warning: The above film contains graphic images.

We may not often stop to think about it, but for every piece of horrific content that makes its way onto social media, someone has to watch it to determine if it should be taken down. And that exacts a brutal toll on the person doing it. 

The Moderators, a new short film by journalist Adrian Chen and director Ciaran Cassidy, is a deep dive into the world of social media content moderation. It follows workers in India who maneuver through the content minefield and decide what’s appropriate for posting and what’s not. In this age of algorithmic decision-making it’s easy to forget that such systems often rely on people relentlessly reviewing the worst content imaginable, all day long.

The topic is one fresh on our minds in the wake of Sunday’s deadly shooting in Cleveland, Ohio that was posted to Facebook.

The grim side of moderation is not a new subject for Chen. He has extensively covered the process of content moderation on social media and the effect it has on the humans who have to flag that offensive content, from pornography to beheadings. 

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