This is a message of solidarity from a group of current and former content moderators at Facebook. We come from several different moderation sites for several different contractors. All of us worked, or still work, to preserve a Facebook that is safe for everyone, and free from violence and hate.

We are, first and foremost, standing in solidarity with the Black community in the USthat is currently mourning the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd, as well as countless others before him, and fighting for the right to live free from systemic exploitation, police brutality and racism.

We would also like to express our solidarity with Facebook workers organizing the virtual walkout and protesting against a lack of adequate action from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook leadership, after president Donald Trump posted a message threatening and inciting violence against Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

We know how important Facebook’s policies are because it’s our job to enforce them. Our everyday reality as moderators is to serve as the public square’s first responders. We oversee all kinds of content, even the most hateful or gruesome, stay proactive and react when necessary to keep all communities safe — while also making sure we enable freedom of expression and information.

We would walk out with you — if Facebook would allow it. As outsourced contractors, non-disclosure agreements deter us from speaking openly about what we do and witness for most of our waking hours. Safety and data protection are important, but so is a healthy debate about what happens at Facebook. In contrast to the official Facebook employees, NDAs also prevent us from voicing concerns and contributing to the public discussion about inevitable ethical challenges connected to the job.

We would walk out with you — if we could afford it. At the moment, content moderators have no possibility, no network or platform or financial security — especially when we are atomized in pandemic and remotely micromanaged — to stage an effective walkout without risking fines, our income and even our right to stay in the countries where we live and work.

We can’t walk out, but we cannot stay silent. Current events prove we cannot passively accept our role of silent algorithm facilitators — not when our screens are being flooded with hate speech. Not when we are forced to witness the impact of the dogwhistles and countless hours of livestreamed police brutality, of pain inflicted on Black bodies. Since tech companies hiring moderators started publicly acknowledging the link between the job and risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, it is crucial to mention that there are studies showing that the lifetime prevalence of PTSD in the US is the highest among the Black population. If it is hazardous to moderate the way Black citizens are treated, it is life-threatening to be black.

Facebook can do better. Considering all of this, we need to express that Mr. Zuckerberg’s words about personal dismay caused by Trump’s “looting and shooting” rhetoric are not enough — especially not when so many of his employees recognize it as a blatant violation of the spirit of the violence and incitement policy; as a call to action no “newsworthiness” is able to justify.

Trump knows what he is doing. The benefit of the doubt this politician is being given as a user, even with such a large platform, is unparalleled — the attempt to retroactively place his words behind the context of other posts, actually has had effect of putting it on an isolated pedestal. This may be the ultimate exhibit of white exceptionality and further legitimization of state brutality we have witnessed in the last weeks.

That is why we are urging Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook management to reconsider this decision, to listen and honor the voices of its Black employees and users.

To the employees themselves — solidarity.

Let’s mourn.

Let’s organize.

Let’s unionize.

#BlackLivesMatter

Active content moderator (Anonymous)

Active content moderator (Anonymous)

Active content moderator (Anonymous)

Active content moderator (Anonymous)

Chris Gray, former content moderator

Reine Laferrere, former content moderator

Anita Pohl, former content moderator

Ibrahim Waziri, former content moderator

Valera Zaicev, former content moderator

Martin Holzmeister, former content moderator