[hate speech etc] Facebook to hire 100 content reviewers

Thank you so much for asking, Patrick!

We don’t really have a ration of moderators to users, and I’ll tell you why. For one, the vast majority of users across Africa use Facebook in English, French, Portuguese. We can have a long discussion on the impact of colonization on local languages/culture, or about what we can do as a platform to encourage more people to use local language (these are, incidentally, some of my very favorite topics), but for the moment, that is the circumstance. So this means that we don’t really have ratios of “Africa” moderators to “Africa” users. The support queues are done according to language. That said, we on Africa policy, as well as many of our colleagues on the content teams, growth and other teams focused on the region concur with the point you made about it being necessary to have content policy reviewers who can understand local context, and our advocacy is reflected both in hiring those who do across the 30k and very much so in the opening of this office. Which, I must stress, is only the beginning.

So the short answer is that we don’t have a ratio because we don’t assign according to region, but according to language.

I’m sure you appreciate the value of having teams of us here at Facebook who recognize this complexity (I’m thrilled to note that my team has grown from just me in September of 2014 to 14 policy professionals covering the Continent by the end of this month, including those based in Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa), and it’s very useful to have external voices like yours pushing us to do better. In this, I assure you that we are very much aligned.

From: \”Patrick A. M. Maina\” <pmaina2000@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: \”Patrick A. M. Maina\” <pmaina2000@yahoo.com>
Date: Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 5:42 PM
To: KICTAnet ICT Policy Discussions <kictanet@lists.kictanet.or.ke>, Ebele Okobi <ebeleokobi@fb.com>
Subject: Re: [kictanet] [hate speech etc] Facebook to hire 100 content reviewers

Thank you Ebele. It\’s is definitely a positive gesture from FB and hopefully will be welcomed by stakeholders who are concerned about risks of platform weaponisation.

Would you be able to share the approximate ratio of moderators to users in Africa? That will really help in establishing perspective & expectations.

Given the diverse cultures in Africa as well as hundreds of languages and dialects, how will FB ensure that the moderators are able to correctly interpret nuance / subtlety e.g. in coded vernacular exchanges – including locality specific or ethnic specific slang?

Africa is much more complicated culturally (and much more volatile – due to various contributing factors which make hate speech / fake news much more potent here) compared to other diverse regions like India and it would be good if this complexity is reflected in FB\’s Africa strategy / measures taken and the amount of resources committed for Africa should be higher than anywhere else.

Have a great evening,


On Thursday, February 7, 2019, 7:54:11 PM GMT+3, Ebele Okobi <ebeleokobi@fb.com> wrote:

It’s important to note that these are not the only content reviewers covering Africa. We already have reviewers covering the Continent and based in our other locations. So it is inaccurate to say that there are only 100 reviewers covering Africa. This is meant to be a further investment in the Continent, and to allow us to support even more communities and languages. We also anticipate that it, like every other centre, will grow.

Regarding mental health-excellent question.

* Our partners (Samasource in Nairobi) are required to provide a comprehensive program of additional benefits that includes health care support.
* We absolutely recognize this work can be difficult, and we take very seriously our responsibility to care for the people that do this job.
* We go to great lengths to look after our reviewers.

* Psychological support: Every person reviewing FB content is offered psychological support & a variety of wellness resources. This typically includes:

* Extensive training around wellness and stress – to focus on prevention
* 24/7 counselling with trained experts
* Breakout areas if you need to step away from your desk

* We also have a team of clinical psychologists who are tasked with designing, delivering and evaluating the resiliency programs we have in place for everyone who works with graphic and objectionable content.
* Training to ensure they are prepared: We have a comprehensive training program that includes at least 80 hours of instructor-led training, as well as hands-on practice for all of our reviewers; and on-going coaching sessions and learning huddles so they are prepared for this type of work
* Anyone that reviews content for Facebook — whether full-time employees, or those employed by our partner — has access to mental health and wellness resources, including trained professionals onsite for both individual and group counseling.

I’m happy to answer any questions from the group!

On Feb 7, 2019, at 4:27 PM, Patrick A. M. Maina via kictanet <kictanet@lists.kictanet.or.ke<mailto:kictanet@lists.kictanet.or.ke>> wrote:
Listers, ICYMI.. Facebook will reportedly hire 100 content reviewers.. finally something concrete in recognition of reality; though certainly not be an optimal number imo because it\’s still a 1:2Million moderator-to-user ratio, and the ideal target is ~1:1000 users meaning if they truly care about the societal impact, they need to hire at least 200,000 moderators to cover all of Africa to guarantee a clean and safe experience!

FB will have to eventually establish culture mapped moderation teams across (or for) different countries in Africa because each unit will only be as effective as its ability to detect cultural nuances, local slang and coded hate / mobilisation messages.

FB will also need to be upfront with potential hires that moderation is one of the dirtiest and most psychologically stressful jobs in ICT so hopefully FB will provide full mental health support and insurance for them, including post contract counselling cover over several years. They also need to boost the headcount very quickly so they can rotate them and minimise repeated exposure to visual trauma i.e. to mitigate the risk of PTSD.

Their next moves in the coming weeks/months will signal whether their primary motivator is greed (hence this is just a PR stunt) or socially responsible profits. My thoughts…


Patrick A. M. Maina
[Independent Public Policy Analyst – Indigenous Innovations]
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