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'Psychological Trauma:' Former Moderators File Lawsuit Against China-Owned TikTok

'Psychological Trauma:' Former Moderators File Lawsuit Against China-Owned TikTok

Two former content moderators for the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok have reportedly sued the company alleging that it failed to adequately support them after they suffered “psychological trauma” while doing their job. TechCrunch reports that a lawsuit filed in federal court this week reveals that two former TikTok content reviewers have sued the Chinese-owned video app giant, alleging that the company failed to support them as they performed work that was “deeply disturbing” and forced them to review objectionable videos from the platform. ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming (STR/Getty) The plaintiffs, Ashley Velez and Reece Young, both worked as moderators for TikTok as contractors for third-party companies.

The companies included the Canadian tech firm Telus International and a New York firm called Atrium. Velez and Young are seeking class-action status in the lawsuit, allowing other TikTok content moderators to join the suit.

The suit claims that both plaintiffs worked twelve hours a day viewing extreme content including “child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder.” The lawsuit further alleges that the plaintiffs were exposed to hate speech and conspiracy theories which further damage their mental health.

The lawsuit claims that TikTok and parent company ByteDance violated California labor laws by failing to provide Velez and Young with adequate mental health support, despite the mental health risks associated with the “abnormally dangerous activities” they were forced to engage with on a daily basis as part of their job.

The lawsuit further alleges that the companies pushed moderators to review extreme amounts of violent and sexual content to hit quotas and further amplified the harm in the situation by forcing them to sign NDAs so that they were legally prevented from discussing what they saw on a daily basis. “Defendants have failed to provide a safe workplace for the thousands of contractors who are the gatekeepers between the unfiltered, disgusting and offensive content uploaded to the App and the hundreds of millions of people who use the App every day,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that TikTok and ByteDance knew of the psychological risks of exposure to traumatic content but made no effort to provide “appropriate ameliorative measures” to help workers deal with the consequences of viewing such extreme content. Read more at TechCrunch here. Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address

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