The human cost of protecting Facebook

Deep, important work from The Verge’s Casey Newton:

Over the past three months, I interviewed a dozen current and former employees of Cognizant in Phoenix. All had signed non-disclosure agreements with Cognizant in which they pledged not to discuss their work for Facebook — or even acknowledge that Facebook is Cognizant’s client. The shroud of secrecy is meant to protect employees from users who may be angry about a content moderation decision and seek to resolve it with a known Facebook contractor. The NDAs are also meant to prevent contractors from sharing Facebook users’ personal information with the outside world, at a time of intense scrutiny over data privacy issues.

Newton delves into the ugliest side of the social networking industry – blocking the worst, horrific excesses of the human race.

What struck me about Newton’s story is that, really, none of it is surprising. What did we think these people had to go through? Are we surprised they’re being poorly paid? Of course not – the scandal here is that 2.5 billion of us are happy to not think about it.

What the story does, brilliantly, is place these poor souls (and they are poor souls) at the heart of the discussion about social media’s impact on our minds and society.