A former TikTok content moderator is suing the social media giant and its parent company ByteDance for allegedly failing to take measures to protect her mental health after she watched hours of traumatising videos that included cannibalism, rape, animal mutilation, and suicide, amongst other disturbing activities. In a proposed class action lawsuit, Candie Frazier, who worked for a third-party recruitment firm, said TikTok moderators work at a gruelling pace and are required to view hundreds of videos a day with few breaks, Bloomberg reports. Frazier explained that moderators work 12-hour shifts and get only one hour for lunch and two 15-minute breaks. Despite the long shifts, moderators often have to view multiple videos (three to ten) at a time and only view 25 seconds of each video, she said. The lawsuit alleges that TikTok failed to comply with industry standards for the protection of content moderators, which include frequent breaks and psychological support, The Verge explained. Frazier also alleges that TikTok failed to implement technical safeguards, such as video downscaling. While working as a content moderator, Frazier said she experienced panic attacks and depression, as well as symptoms related to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She also has difficulty sleeping, and when she does manage to fall asleep as a result of the content she has viewed, she is plagued by terrible nightmares. Frazier seeks compensation from TikTok for the psychological harm she and others have suffered. She also wants the court to order the company to set up a medical fund for content moderators.
In a recent statement to Bloomberg, a spokesperson for the social media giant said it does not comment on ongoing litigation. However, TikTok strives to "foster a caring working environment for its employees and contractors". "Our security team works with third-party companies to help protect the TikTok platform and community, and we continue to expand our range of wellness services to ensure moderators feel psychologically and emotionally supported," the spokesperson said.