DOXA — The Cleaners

Doxa 2018

One of the best films of the festival, and one of the most complex. I saw this film almost a week ago, and I am still grappling with what to say in my review. It is informative, it is provocative, and it illuminates an important practice that impacts our social fabric.

First of all, please see this film. Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck have done a fantastic job of taking us behind-the-scenes to the work of the men and women in Manila who are responsible for moderating the content of thousands of social media posts a day. Child pornography, self harm videos, political issues… What stays up? What gets deleted? How is that decided? Who are the people who are deciding? What are their values? This is a very large topic with varying competitive needs that impacts us all globally. Therefore, if we are users of the internet and consider ourselves global citizens, we should be aware of how this process works and how it affects others.

Following the film was a panel discussion with Q&A, one of my favourite parts of the Doxa Festival.

Paul Prescott, Maite Taboada, Nikolas Badminton and Amber Frid-Jimenez

All of these fine people had great insights to offer on the subject matter. A few of the great comments: “The internet is used as a mouthpiece for yourself” (Nikolas); “The film is good at negotiating a complex field of concerns…Data is political…Technology is not neutral” (Amber); “Toxic content poisons the well” (Maite); The expressed dilemma “How can we let these companies tell us what we can see AND How can they let us see this?!” (Paul)

Like I said, it is a must see. If you are a user of the internet, I believe it is important to know how what we see exists, and when it doesn’t. It is also valuable to see the labour issues that these workers experience in Manila.