Facebook facing up to 12 lawsuits over ‘disturbing content’

Cases follow claim of ‘psychological injuries’ by former content moderator Chris Gray

Chris Gray outside the Facebook Ireland offices at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. He is suing Facebook Ireland and CPL Solutions for psychological injuries he claims he suffered as a result of his work. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Chris Gray outside the Facebook Ireland offices at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. He is suing Facebook Ireland and CPL Solutions for psychological injuries he claims he suffered as a result of his work. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Up to 12 content moderators are preparing to take legal action against Facebook in Ireland, The Irish Times has learned.

The first case was initiated in the High Court on Wednesday by a former moderator, Chris Gray. He is suing Facebook Ireland and CPL Solutions for psychological injuries he claims he suffered as a result of his work, which involved “repeated and unrelenting exposure to extremely disturbing, graphic and violent content”.

The 53-year-old claims that moderating content including videos of executions, lethal beatings, child exploitation and animal cruelty, left him argumentative, over-sensitive and at times aggressive. Further cases are expected to follow, including more than one by a direct employee of Facebook.

“I expect this to snowball,” said Cori Crider, director of Foxglove, a UK-based not-for-profit group working with lawyers for other would-be plaintiffs.

“We think that it is high time that we cleaned up social media’s factory floor.”

Facebook said in a statement that it is “committed to providing support for those that review content for Facebook as we recognise that reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult”. Moderators go through “an in-depth, multi-week training programme on our Community Standards” and have access to “extensive psychological support”.

CPL was not available for comment, but it previously said it provides employees with extensive training, cares “deeply” about them and takes “any concerns they raise very seriously”.