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Moderator Who Watched Hours of Traumatic Videos Sues TikTok for Failing to Protect Her Mental Health

The former content moderator says she has developed panic attacks and depression. She also has a hard time sleeping and experiences horrific nightmares.

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Image for article titled Moderator Who Watched Hours of Traumatic Videos Sues TikTok for Failing to Protect Her Mental Health
Illustration: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

A former content moderator for TikTok is suing the social media giant and its parent company, ByteDance, for reportedly failing to take measures to protect her mental health after she watched countless hours of traumatic videos involving cannibalism, rapes, animal mutilation, and suicides, among numerous other disturbing activities.

In the proposed class action lawsuit, Candie Frazier, who worked for a third-party contracting firm, stated that TikTok moderators work at a grueling pace and are obligated to review hundreds of videos per day with few breaks, according to Bloomberg. Moderators work 12-hour shifts, Frazier explained, and only get one hour off for lunch and two 15-minute breaks.


Despite the long shifts, moderators often have to watch multiple videos at once, ranging from three to 10, and only review 25 seconds of each video, she said. ByteDance keeps a close eye on the moderators’ performance, the Verge reported, and “heavily punishes any time taken away from watching graphic videos.”

The lawsuit alleges that TikTok has not adhered to industry standards to protect content moderators, which include offering them frequent breaks and psychological support, the Verge explained. Frazier also claims thatTikTok has failed to implement technical safeguards, such as blurring or reducing the resolution of videos moderators have to watch.


Because of her work as a content moderator, Frazier said she has developed panic attacks and depression as well as symptoms associated with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She also has trouble sleeping and suffers from horrible nightmares when she does manage to sleep over the content she’s watched.

Frazier is seeking to have TikTok pay her and others for the psychological injuries they have suffered. In addition, she wants the court to force the company to set up a medical fund for content moderators.

Gizmodo reached out to TikTok for comment on the lawsuit on Sunday but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this article if we hear back.

In a recent statement to Bloomberg, a spokesperson for the social media giant said it doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation. However, TikTok works hard “to promote a caring working environment for our employees and contractors.”


“Our safety team partners with third party firms on the critical work of helping to protect the TikTok platform and community, and we continue to expand on a range of wellness services so that moderators feel supported mentally and emotionally,” the spokesperson said.