A former Facebook content moderator who is suing the firm over alleged mental health damage arising out of their employment has been granted anonymity by the High Court after expressing fears for their security and safety.
The employee, a non-EU national, said there were concerns the nature of their previous role within the social media company puts them at risk of government retaliation in another jurisdiction they regularly visit.
The court heard the plaintiff also sought the anonymity orders due to suffering from psychological issues alleged to have been caused by their exposure to extremely graphic and disturbing images of violence, torture, child sex abuse imagery and terror-related violence in working as a moderator for the company in Ireland.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan made orders anonymising the plaintiff pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the court, as well as under legislation to protect the identity of people with medical conditions.
Fiona Nolan, instructed by Coleman Legal Partners, for the plaintiff, said the defendants were consenting to the request.
The plaintiff’s case is against Facebook Ireland Limited, which has its registered office at Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2. The claims in the action are denied.
Facebook as a threat
In documents before the court, it was claimed the worker’s safety concerns arise from circumstances where Facebook is viewed as a threat by the government of a country they visit. The worker claims recent events concerning the potential external interference, including from Russia, with United States elections have created a bigger threat in the particular location for those employed by the company “simply by virtue of association”.
In the action, the worker is suing for damages for personal injuries allegedly arising out of the negligence, breach of duty and reckless infliction of emotional suffering on the part of Facebook, its servants or agents in allegedly failing to provide a safe system of work.
The worker claims their job was “dramatically different” to what had been originally presented to them. It is claimed that it was mentioned in passing during an interview that it might be necessary, on occasions, to view imagery of nudity or violence.
‘Extremely onerous quota’
The plaintiff claims they were required to complete an “extremely onerous quota” of viewing 1,200 content pieces per day.
It is claimed the plaintiff experienced nightmares and insomnia after videos of children and adults being assaulted, tortured and violently murdered. Further, it is alleged the defendant company offered “little or no support” to the plaintiff in relation to these circumstances.
The proceedings were adjourned to a later date.