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The Worst Job At Google: a Year of Watching Terrible Things On the Internet

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the rather-flip-burgers dept.

The Internet 535

Cutting_Crew writes "Gizmodo has called attention to a story that describes the worst job you can get at Google: wading through and blocking objectionable content, which includes watching decapitations and beastiality. A ex-Google-employee who did just that tells his own story of a year-long stint of looking at the most horrible things on the internet. In the end, he needed therapy, and since he was a contractor, he was let go instead of being hired as a full time employee."

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Every... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073173)

corporate windows user experiences the same or worse each day,
praying for a quick end to it all...

Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (0)

Nothing2Chere (1434973) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073183)

This is /. after all.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073217)

I've never done the job, but I can assure you that goatse is the very least of the what the internet has to offer in terms of disturbing images. Honestly, from what I hear about these jobs, the only people who can last long term and probably psychopathic to some degree or another: i.e. they have little to no empathy for others.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (5, Funny)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073421)

I'd like to see that job posting...

Wanted: Individual to wade through the most depraved and terrible consequences of human imaginations known to man.
Requirements: Must be completely emotionless and unsympathetic to the human condition. Robots are preferred but not required. A J.D., M.B.A. or experience in government is also a plus.
Compensation: Competitive

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073981)

Preference given to former US Congressmen or Senators. Seniority status a plus.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (2)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073537)

A psychopath wouldn't be very good at such a job. He's look at a video of kittens being eviscerated and wonder why anybody would be bothered by it.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (5, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073769)

That might be true with a psychopath but a sociopath (which is what the OP probably meant) would be quite capable of watching the videos and understanding how other people would react even if they don't react themselves. Sociopaths in general learn during their childhood to mimic empathy to fit in. The classic example is Ted Bundy, a perfectly (in public) outgoing and social individual who knew how to mimic empathy but in private was cutting people up to see what their insides looked like.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (1)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073917)

Now that you mention it, I was thinking about a sociopath too. And I think you're wrong. Yeah, a good sociopath wears an effective mask. But I think it would be a lot easier to conceal the enjoyment of the odd weekend murder spree than it would be to conceal enjoyment of spending an entire workday staring at degrading crap.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (5, Insightful)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073997)

I'd think pediatric surgeons would be good candidates for such a job. They have empathy, but they have seen all that crap up-close, for the most part. Beaten kids, raped kids, systematically malnourished and otherwise neglected and abused kids, kids with amputations from farm machinery, etc. A friend of mine has been at it for almost two decades and she still cries every now and then, but not always at work. She cries when she sees perfectly normal, healthy kids. She is not psychopathic by any stretch of imagination. It's a job. Humans are the cruelest of the animals. Get over it or go crazy, your pick. Getting over it is not psychopathic, neither is it lacking empathy. Empathy doesn't mean you have to lose your wits every time you see abuse...

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (3, Insightful)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073219)

Yes, or the obligatory sarcastic remarks on "don't do evil".
Poor guy...

Assholes and the coporations that love them (5, Interesting)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073871)

Do no evil....to the customers....

But lets be fair, this isn't about Google being evil. It is about some asshole middle manager that is running one department and only caring about the bottom line. Google the corporate entity doesn't really have any say in daily operations on this scale, it can only react to stuff like this happening. They can send out all the memos and make rules until they are blue in the face, but at some point an employee chooses how to act, and the company can then react.

The real test is how Google reacts at this point. If they were really a 'good' corporation (whatever that really means), they would probably step in and help this guy out, while canning the person who fired him.

It kind of bugs me that people can't seem to differentiate between actions that employees of a corporation take, and actions that the corporation takes. (e.g. Microsoft buys companies. Microsoft employees disregard open XML standards.) This story seems like a perfect example of that.

Re:actions that the corporation takes (1, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073979)

Damn, you just (re)discovered another right that corps have over individuals. When Corps do strange nasty things, they can siphon it off to "lower level managers" and disclaim it. Everything and anything an Individual does becomes part of their record.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073485)

This is /. after all.

Meh, goatse was chocking the first time you saw it. Once you actually look at it it's not that bad. Today I mostly see goatse and tubgirl as old firends.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse jokes in 3...2...1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073971)

Just so you're not shocked at the reunion, they got married and have four kids.

Re:Cue the obligatory goatse links in 3...2...1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073973)

fixed the title for you

Lightweight (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073187)

This guy gets paid to do what 4chaners happily do for free and he complains about needing therapy. .. On the other hand, I smell a crowd source opportunity.

Re:Lightweight (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073335)

This guy gets paid to do what 4chaners happily do for free and he complains about needing therapy. .. On the other hand, I smell a crowd source opportunity.

You'd hire a 4channer to figure out what is objectionable?

Captcha: suicide ... et tu /.

Re:Lightweight (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073511)

You'd hire a 4channer to figure out what is objectionable?

Sure, you just measure the time taken to view the image. If it's long enough to masturbate, it's objectionable.

Re:Lightweight (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073531)

You'd hire a 4channer to figure out what is objectionable?

Easy to do. Just watch his pupils dilate, and you know that it's probably "offense"

Re:Lightweight (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073927)

You'd hire a 4channer to figure out what is objectionable?

What, you don't think consensual sex in the missionary position is objectionable?

Re:Lightweight (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073755)

"not your personal army" and all that. if 4chan can fuck with something they will. cooperation is the last thing you can expect.

probably 9th post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073193)

Unfair! Therapy costs, and the job requirements were such that therapy would be expected...
beyond that, change jobs before therapy is needed. Anything.

Why not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073209)

Why not hire someone who actually likes beastiality and decapitations? There must me loads of this kind of people judging from what is posted daily on 4chan.

Re:Why not... (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073425)

Why not hire someone who actually likes beastiality and decapitations? There must me loads of this kind of people judging from what is posted daily on 4chan.

Because they would have a vested interest in making sure those images and videos became as widely available as possible, which is probably counter to Google's goal here.

Re:Why not... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073501)

If they screw up, they get fired and lose the free porn source.

Limit this to a few months + mandatory debriefings (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073221)

An unnamed police department in the United States had a policy for child pornography investigators:

* You could only do it for a few months then it was someone else's turn
* You had mandatory psychological help

Oh, and you had to be trained ahead of time.

Re:Limit this to a few months + mandatory debriefi (2)

Formorian (1111751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073657)

Most Police departments that I'm aware of have some sort of policy regarding this. I mean you do have to investigate it, but yeah therapy is pretty much mandatory.

Not sure about swapping in and out, would have to check on that.

Re:Limit this to a few months + mandatory debriefi (1)

nschubach (922175) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073987)

Hmm, I spent some time in front of a computer or two in my earlier years that the local police brought into the shop to have us look for material for investigations... I was required to sign some paperwork about sharing the content, but that's about it.

As far as doing that job for a year? Maybe I'm an exception, but I don't think I'd have a problem doing it. Granted, I only had to do it for a few days every once in a blue moon.

similar story from 2010 (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073235)

Here [nytimes.com] is a 2010 New York Times article on the same subject. Seems like not much has changed. Apparently a bunch of it is outsourced, which in addition to the nature of the work, leads to questions about content privacy, especially when some of the images being reviewed are non-public (e.g. stuff you've sent through Facebook messages).

On the other hand, I can see contracting this out (5, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073547)

This is one of those sick-o jobs that messes with your brain so much that it's in your boss's and employer's best legal interest to NOT know what you did.

Can you imagine the lawsuits if Google DID have these guys on the payroll and, 5 years later, ONE of them went nuts-o and harmed another employee, and that employee was NOT aware of the attacker's previous job description? Google might win in the long run but they'd have to fight an uphill battle.

By making sure the person is never on the payroll and relying on the standard practice of only verifying employment dates, job titles/job descriptions, and eligibility for rehire to future employers, they've pretty much immunized themselves if one of there censors goes nuts and kills someone 5 years down the road.

Well, they have, EXCEPT legal theories of liability change over time and those changes have a way of biting you ex-post-facto.

Re:On the other hand, I can see contracting this o (5, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073779)

Can you imagine the lawsuits if Google DID have these guys on the payroll and, 5 years later, ONE of them went nuts-o and harmed another employee, and that employee was NOT aware of the attacker's previous job description?

The risk is not employee on employee violence, it is risk of suicide.

Fap.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073249)

Are they hiring?

As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (4, Interesting)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073261)

First, Did google not describe to the employees what exactly they would be doing? I know they said, "sensitive content" but that could mean a whole variety of things. Second, there is one thing that we all kid about and talk about and porn is one of them and I am sure that there are solid studies indicating that this does effect people in harsh ways. Its another thing to go venturing off into beheadings, beastiality and the like and not even get any kind of support from a company that has billions of cash. The least they could have done would have been to offer a support program, some take away money when leaving or *gasp* how about a full time position doing something more humane?

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (3, Funny)

Arthur B. (806360) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073315)

Porn only effects people when contraception fails

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (-1, Troll)

0racle (667029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073349)

does effect people in harsh ways

[citation needed]

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (3, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073617)

[citation needed]

Advertising, political campaigning, etc all have an effect on people. Why wouldn't this? However, censorship is not the right way to counter it.

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073663)

Advertising, political campaigning, etc all have an effect on people.

If you're not cautious. Or if by "effect," you mean that it makes them think, then yes.

Why wouldn't this?

Because this isn't advertising or political campaigning.

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073743)

The difference being porn isnt shoved down your throat (heh) all day on every form of outlet available. You have to seek out porn (or misspell URL's).

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073887)

That's effectively what happened to this guy. He was watching it all day. It's no different from the effects of any propaganda.

Re:As the actual submitter I'll post my thought... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073691)

this job sounds like the equivelent of cleaning a nuclear reactor. just because you find someone stupid enough to do the job it doesn't mean you leave them in place so long that you destroy their ability to enjoy their pay. was there no psych monitering during the job to stop burnout.

A weak mind (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073273)

Should not accept assignments like this.

Re:A weak mind (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073455)

A weak mind? I'm sorry, but I'm willing to bet after watching this stuff for long enough it's going to have an effect on anybody but a sociopath. Then too, but they'd probably enjoy it.

Soldiers and police offices get PTSD. The cops who work on child porn and the like get worn down. Heck, I bet people who work in ERs get a little twigged on this stuff.

You immerse anybody in this stuff day in and day out, and I think it's safe to assume there's going to be some lasting trauma.

And I have to assume that anybody who would volunteer for this and thrive on it ... well, you need to keep an eye on them because they're probably dangerous.

Anybody who thinks simply being tough-minded (as opposed to being highly twisted) is all that it would take to "man up" and get past this is likely full of crap.

Re:A weak mind (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073643)

Anybody who thinks simply being tough-minded (as opposed to being highly twisted) is all that it would take to "man up" and get past this is likely full of crap.

So, 4chan is full of sociopaths. Then, by your logic my assessment of the human race's progress should be much different...

Note to self: update The Guide to read: "Mostly Sociopathic", or "Mostly Full of Crap"

Re:A weak mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073767)

Correction: /b/ is full of sociopaths. 4chan is not /b/, please don't confuse the two.

Re:A weak mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073819)

4chan is also comparably mild.

Re:A weak mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073737)

A weak mind? I'm sorry, but I'm willing to bet after watching this stuff for long enough it's going to have an effect on anybody but a sociopath.

Ah, yes, assuming that anyone who isn't as sensitive as you is a sociopath/psychopath/what have you: the hallmark of an Internet psychologist.

Soldiers and police offices get PTSD.

Seeing the real thing in real life is far different than seeing a picture on the Internet. I can almost guarantee you that a majority of 4chan's users do not have PTSD.

Anybody who thinks simply being tough-minded (as opposed to being highly twisted) is all that it would take to "man up" and get past this is likely full of crap.

I'm just not as sensitive as you. It's only your opinion (and perhaps the opinion of others) that that's a bad thing.

Police (1)

phorm (591458) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073787)

I have a friend who works in CyberCrime. He doesn't talk that much about his job but the basic take is that it deals with a lot of things normal people who rather not think about or look at.
He's a cop, which seems a much better job that an Google. At least if you're a cop you get some person satisfaction when some of these sick f***s get sent to jail.

What you're seeing is 'the Just World" hypothesis (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073967)

The shrinks call it "the Just World" hypothesis.

When told a story about how something bad happened to a little child -- loss of a cookie, for example -- children in studies begin to imagine something similar happening to them. This causes mental discomfort, and they begin to look for ways this would NOT have happened to them. In the vast majority of cases, the children decide the cookie was lost because the victim either did something wrong or was something wrong (a bad child), so since the tested child is not bad and does not intend to do something wrong, then nothing bad will ever happen to them. The world is good, and only good things will happen to good children.

If you know a kid, try it yourself. Keep the story small -- lost a cookie, lost a toy -- so you don't traumatize the kid. :-) You'll be amazed at the lengths the kid goes to to insulate himself from the possibility.

You see this manifest in a million different ways in the adult world. Only bad girls get raped. Welfare cases are taking all our money. All car crashes were caused by stupid people. Unfortunate people are just "unlucky," and my luck is good.

Nurb432 doesn't like the thought that his job could use him up, break him, and then just throw him away. He tells himself stories about why this won't happen to him. He's not weak-minded. He's not weak. He's in demand. He manages his career wisely. He's the ant surrounded by grasshoppers. He's the Little Red Hen, and he'll laugh come winter.

Hint that Winter is Coming for all of us, and he won't thank you.

Bloody hell ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073277)

Wow, I figure if anybody had to do that for a year, they should be given a pension, a quiet place to get away from things, and a LOT of therapy.

I can't imagine being the poor bastard that has to look at the worst stuff on the internet. I've glimpsed enough to know that I wouldn't want to see any more of it. I'm frequently appalled at some of the things people choose to see.

I think even the law enforcement guys can get fucked up from this, and they understand the need for support systems. Your first job our of school? That would ruin you forever.

Re:Forever (4, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073399)

Maybe, just maybe not.
Agreed with a little help afterwards, you could pull ahead of it such that "nothing can shock you ever again". They do it in the Military all the time, though in a more physical style.

Re:Forever (1)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073509)

Yeah. You'd think they would have an ongoing schedule of therapy for the screeners, available continuously while they hold the job.

Re:Forever (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073561)

Agreed with a little help afterwards, you could pull ahead of it such that "nothing can shock you ever again". They do it in the Military all the time, though in a more physical style.

I would argue that if you take the most bad-assed military, police, or what have you ... unless someone has some serious issues of their own already which would make them enjoy it (which pretty much disqualifies them from doing the job), this kind of stuff 8 hours/day for a year is going to seriously fuck you up.

Unless you really want your military made up of vicious sadists, I completely fail to see how this kind of thing wouldn't cause lasting damage -- or at least the need for some heavy duty counseling and support.

That much exposure to every single horrible thing that ever gets filmed is bound to wear down anybody. And anybody it doesn't, likely scores in the very scary end of humanity.

Re:Forever (1, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073785)

All the time? So PTSD is imaginary in your world. Even the military which ties to use a total institution cannot deal with these problems, so that gives google about a 0% chance.

Re:Bloody hell ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073483)

You're really weak and/or sheltered if you can't handle seeing stuff like that. I could easily do a job like that because nothing really shocks me any more and yet I am still able to sift out what the philistines like you might find objectionable.

Basically grow up, harden up and stop being a pussy.

Re:Bloody hell ... (4, Insightful)

Calydor (739835) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073845)

You can filter it out when you get to see it every now and then.

Imagine having to watch one video after the other of people being maimed or killed, animals being abused, children being abused, most of them with a laugh track attached, and you have to do this for an average of forty hours a week for a year.

No, I doubt you would be able to just 'filter it out' in the long run, and if you ARE able to do that you're seriously not someone I want to know IRL. Humans are supposed to have emotions and empathy; a lack of both would be shown by being completely unaffected by such a job.

Re:Bloody hell ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073969)

How about giving him a mental check-up BEFORE he starts work. Because only one very fucked up in the head would willingly accept that kind of work.

unsurprisingly tragic (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073327)

It's unfortunate google doesn't take better care of the people they hire for this work, given the job as described it's not really surprising it fucks a lot of people up. You'd kinda think there should be a fairly extensive training programme first, and then a coping programme after, if nothing else because you really need to weed out the ones who are there because they enjoy it.

Like reading every crappy /b/ thread (4, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073339)

Sounds pretty crappy. My first thought was, "It's basically being paid to look at the very worst threads on /b/. And basically being unable to stop unless you want to be jobless."

They better have paid well, because while I consider myself pretty desensitized to a lot of things there's some stuff that still gets me (mainly involving permanent bodily harm like the Lamborghini Tool Pull from Jackass 3D).

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073353)

This pretty much sums up why I stopped using the internet. Oh wait...

Where do I apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073365)

Because these things don't bother me. I mean, sure; I'm bothered as much a the next guy by a decapitation, but I can't imagine it being traumatizing. It's just a job. It's no secret that the world is a terrible, terrible place that's full of injustice.

It is the same with many edges of society. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073371)

They all need a good head check to make sure they don't end up turning rotten.

One year you could be policing the internet for child porn websites, next you could be hoarding it yourself.
Same thing happens with drug enforcement as well in many areas around the world.

Jobs like these can turn even the sanest, reasonable people in to corrupt / destroyed / outright evil people.
They are tough jobs and they have some balls to do them.
So I ask of you, Slashdot, raise a drink to the moderators of content around the world. Without them, the world really would be a worse place.

Well said! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073853)

One year you could be policing the internet for child porn websites, next you could be hoarding it yourself.

Even without a job like this, most adults are only 10-15 years away from total depravity if they start down a path that desensitizes them to evil and keep going in that direction.

Fortunately, even most people who are this far gone still have at least a little moral center left. With desire, work, time, and support from professionals and friends, they can return to a moral standard that most people would call civilized.

I know. I took a turn 10-15 years ago and walked that slow path to moral depravity. A few years ago I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw. With a strong desire, divine intervention, love, support, and lots of time I'm well on my way back to where I want to be. I expect to be there in a few more years.

He was let go? (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073387)

In the end, he needed therapy, and since he was a contractor, he was let go instead of being hired as a full time employee.

Since Google doesn't do bad things, it was obviously his fault.

I did this for a living (5, Interesting)

ctime (755868) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073461)

I worked for a very large company and analysed data from network packet capture devices that would sift through data and find interesting items. It was quite a head job after awhile. So many people doing dumb things at work and getting caught. Reasonable seeming people looking at fucked up porn (men and women coworkers), people hooking up with random strangers in public restrooms (facilitating this online on their work computers, it happens alot), people having groupsex and viewing the photos at work (via web email), total perverts preying on teenagers (stockholm syndrome in full effect), really anything wrenched or nasty you hear about in the news is like the tip of the iceberg when given a large enough sample size of the general able populous. It may have tweaked my view of people in retrospect, basically it was a really long course in human psychology. I wouldn't ever do that shit again, or anything close to it, but I have respect for people who do.

Dissapointed (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073489)

I have to imagine that I am far from the only one that is disappointed in Google. Perhaps I expect too much, but they are one company I would think better of than to do pull something like that. I normally have a lot of respect for them in most things.

Re:Dissapointed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073595)

Why would you expect they wouldn't do this? They've done similar things to their contractors for most of their life. You weren't actually dumb enough to fall for their 'Do No Evil' bullshit, were you?

Not surprising. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073497)

A few years back I worked at an early TV-over-the-internet company (this was pre-Netflix and the company didn't really catch on as it required set-top boxes).

While my job was fairly mundane (mostly setting up new storage filers), I often had to go into the recording room: studios would send us a bunch of movies, TV shows, etc. on non-copy-protected DVDs and a bunch of staffers would spend all day ripping these DVDs to our storage system. Each staffer had to ensure that the ripping was going well by reviewing all the content on a bank of 24 (6 rows of 4 monitors) small monitors.

About 10% of the content the company hosted (which was responsible for about 90% of its income) was porn. All pretty standard fare, really, particularly for the internet: the worst they had was some mild kink/S&M stuff -- all stuff you could buy at your neighborhood adult shop.

On its own and viewed in moderation, not really a big deal...but the staffers got a little warped after a year in the recording room, particularly when they'd have several monitors of porn, a few monitors of kids movies (e.g. Disney stuff), a few of various movies, etc. It wasn't so much that porn was bad, it was just that the juxtaposition of porn and all the other stuff is a bit off-putting, or so they said. I believe it.

I can't imagine the horrors seen by the content-review people on sites where media is uploaded by the public. Poor bastards.

Admission test (1, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073543)

If you manage to take out semantics and feelings from images/videos/etc you could take this job, Mr. Spock

So do Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Myspace, et al (5, Informative)

tangent3 (449222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073553)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/technology/19screen.html [nytimes.com]

The 2-year old article I linked also explains that all Google content reviewers are on one-year contract because of the nature of the work and have access to counseling. From TFA it seems many of these reviewers got the false impression that they would be hired fulltime after completing the one year. Considering that Google seem to have pretty tough hiring process, I'm not surprised that very few of these reviewers get hired fulltime. Their managers must be filthy liars though.

Gizmodo is readable suddenly?!? (1)

MSojka (83577) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073599)

Wow ... you can actually read Gizmodo (and related sites, I guess) without JavaScript now. Took them long enough.

Sounds kinda like my volunteer job! (0, Flamebait)

greenreaper (205818) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073613)

I'm a moderator for furry art community Inkbunny [inkbunny.net] in my spare time, and I've seen depictions of everything mentioned in the article and much more besides. However, most of it is permitted under our terms of service - instead, we don't allow human in sexual situations/showing genitals (which are what the laws are targeted at), or general photography (which thankfully avoids most realistic and graphic shock pictures). So the diaper porn stays.

Does it change you? Yeah, I guess. Some of the fetishes are pretty crazy. Rape followed (or preceded) by torture, impalement, or beheadings. People being turning into dirty diapers. Art for those who like to fantasize about eating others - or being eaten. Tentacles galore. Over time you start to blank it out; most just gets a glance as I check it off for humans or other policy violations. All in a day's work. Of course, I can stop any time I like, since I'm not being paid.

(This isn't the experience of every Inkbunny user. We have great tag-based blocking features, but of course as a moderator I can't use them while doing my job.)

I highly doubt (0)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073655)

The contract with Google forced the guy to stay there for a whole year. My contracts generally have a two week notice period for a "no reason needed, we just don't want you anymore" termination.

do you have to watch the whole thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073671)

Once you get to a point where you realize it is bad stuff and it needs to be removed, can't you just stop watching? I mean, usually the first second or two is all you need for recognition. Naked person getting under horse -- well I don't need to see anymore to block that. Sure, there's going to be some videos that cut to the chase in the first second, but I think you could save yourself a lot of trauma by lowering your threshold. I'd risk a lot of false-positives for something like my mental stability.

Contractors are generally treated as worthless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073679)

"and since he was a contractor, he was let go instead of being hired as a full time employee"

I know that feel, bro.

I currently work as a "contractor" within a state agency. When a position opened up that entailed doing exactly what I do but working directly for the agency I applied. I was not even interviewed. I was screened out by the HR department for, get this, not meeting the minimum qualifications.

This was not an oversight or clerical error, I was told. I don't have the right level of education to apply for the job. That's right. I'm educated enough to perform the job (for over a year now) as a contractor but not educated enough to perform the job as a direct-hire.

It's like the guy said in the full article, if you're a contractor then the people who control your employment have no clue who you are or what you do. You're just a number in a department.

Re:Contractors are generally treated as worthless (0)

greenreaper (205818) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073747)

Sounds like you were lucky; you got to do the job for a whole year without having the right qualifications! You can't dodge the college tax forever . . .

taste (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073705)

Maybe the guy just has shit taste.

This looks like something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073719)

.....that your average /b/yard would be eminently qualified for. Heck most would probably do it for free.

Re:This looks like something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073849)

Think outside of the box and tap the enormous potential of chantards.

Internet can be a scary place. (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073745)

A couple of years ago I was surfing the net on a friend's computer. While on google, I'd searched "naked women", a couple of clicks later a video comes up that was so disgusting and horrible, to this day it still bothers me to think about it. I couldn't think what it must be like to have a job that exposes someone to that level of horror on a regular basis.

Hire 4chan (1, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073757)

I'm sure the fine denizens of /b/ would love to view all the bad things on the internet, and probably do it for free if not pay for the chance to get new OP.

Google Abusing "Contractors"??? (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073771)

It is appearing to me more and more, as I learn about the "tagging" practices and stories like this, as though Google is illegally employing people as "contractors" when they are really just low-level employees.

This has been a long-time problem with large corporations. IBM was famously caught at doing that, and so was Microsoft.

[irs.gov] The IRS has pretty clear guidelines about who is a "contractor" versus who is an "employee".

It appears pretty clear to me that Google is illegally calling employees "contractors" so they can be denied perks and benefits. Just like IBM was, and just like Microsoft was.

The One Year Rule (4, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073857)

The story makes it sound like Google only uses contractors for this job because they know nobody could hold it down for more than a year. But it sounds more like Google is misusing contractors the way I've seen happen at many high-tech companies. Bad managers don't have it together well enough to come up with a proper plan for expanding their departments, so whenever they have a new project that needs heads they don't have, they hire some contractors. These are always hired under a time limit, to avoid a repeat of the Vizcaino v Microsoft [findlaw.com] lawsuit.

This ties in with one of my pet peeve with Google: they only seem to hire really brilliant people with great academic credentials who are never expected to bother themselves with scutwork. On the rare occasions when they realize that the scutwork can't be avoided (like manual crap filtering) they hire temps. Thus scutwork either doesn't get done or is done by people who aren't really a part of the employee community, and don't coordinate well with the real employees. That's why so many of their commercial products die on the vine, why so many of their products stay in beta mode for years, and why they have such abysmal documentation and tech support.

They did two things right: they came up with the best search engine ever, and they figured out how to make it generate huge tons of money. This allows the rest of the company to be run wastefully and ineffectively. The shareholders don't care for this, but the voting stock is controlled by a small cadre of insiders.

Ah, But I'm Stronger Than That (4, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073867)

This is why companies love independent contractors for this sort of job.

There are plenty of studies that show us just how very little self-awareness and self-control the typical person actually has. Virtually everybody thinks they're made of stronger mettle than the other guy; virtually everybody thinks they can handle pretty much anything life could throw at them. Nobody wants to believe that they're the person who'd crack under pressure; nobody wants to believe that they're the person who would keep walking past a mugging. People tend to think that the flaws and limitations of the human race are things that apply primarily to other people.

Successful companies know this; manipulating people is a key part of how a company becomes successful in the first place. Google knows that this kind of work will eventually destroy the mental health of the person performing the work. Why would they shoulder the responsibility for dealing with this fallout when they have a nigh limitless supply of perfectly unremarkable human beings who think they're strong enough to hack it?

Note that I don't condone this behavior in the least; I find it reprehensible. But we live in a world where personal responsibility, level playing fields, and common sense are sacrosanct, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Everybody thinks they're David; nobody ever considers the odds that they're one of the countless schmucks Goliath laid out before his ultimate fight.

Try working in the Abuse department ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41073903)

... of a Usenet provider. Most people lasted 6 months.

Hire from 4chan (1)

OldSport (2677879) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073915)

On the one hand, you could find tons of people who would have no problem looking at "objectionable content." On the other hand, probably very few of them would find the content objectionable in the first place.

censorship vs ? (2)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41073985)

I've never watched vids for a living, but there are at least a dozen or so which have tainted my psyche to some extent. Some, I have to forget for my own health. But where does removing the meaninglessly wretched turn from "editing", to censorship of the meaningfully wretched? There are some truly horrible videos which have been available for years and left alone. Yet others which hardly compare are often removed. One particular video that is repeatedly removed is one of alleged US soldiers beating a sheep to death with a baseball bat [liveleak.com] . But as horrible as it is, it scarcely compares to hundreds of others which are not censored. Two pretty disturbing examples I can immediately think of are these:

Man eaten alive by lions in front of family [youtube.com] - yeah, WTF?

Guy has arm ripped off by crocodile [youtube.com] - ugly, but understandably uncensored

Not that you'd want to for the sake of viewing something repugnant, but keywords "Syria Violence" could lead very quickly to an appointment with a therapist. For example: Bodies of postal workers thrown from rooftops [youtube.com] -- and that is very mild compared to others, especially from Libya. ~ Those are the ones I must forget. As horrible as they are, I strongly believe they should not be censored, and many haven't been. Real events, however horrible, unless to protect privacy, should be left transparent. I admire the function implemented by Google which allows vids to be flagged as +18 Only, but I have also seen this option abused, misused, and sometimes 100% erroneously enforced. But at least it makes viewing certain content voluntary and comes with a disclaimer. That's fine. Censorship is not.

I can imagine viewing such things with any consistency could easily affect one's mental health, or even ruin someone's life. I am sure there are also many who could view such things over breakfast, lunch and dinner and carry on as normal. Certainly censoring bird song [slashdot.org] isn't difficult though, but I guess that's what AI is for.

What I'd really like see is a more thorough account of the real criterion for censorship at the Chocolate Factory. I've seen many examples of Google censorship which anything but fit the declared purpose. And then sometimes I am left completely surprised.
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