Tags Comments Share your voice Facebook Mobile Tech Industry 10 Now playing: Watch this: Facebook is putting women on the front line of its war… 4:06 Staff sit at computers inside a Facebook content moderation center in Berlin. Soeren Stache/Getty Images Some of the workers saw video of a man being stabbed to death. Others viewed acts of bestiality or animals being tortured. Suicides and beheadings popped up too.The reason for watching the gruesome content: to determine whether it should be pulled from Facebook before more members of the world’s largest social network could see it.Content moderators protect Facebook’s 2.3 billion users from exposure to humanity’s darkest impulses. Scouring posts that’ve been flagged by other members of the social network or by the Silicon Valley giant’s artificial intelligence tools, they quickly decide what stays up and what comes down. But reviewing the posts comes with a cost. Constant exposure to violence, hatred and sordid acts can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health. Former content moderators have already filed a lawsuit against Facebook in which they say repeated exposure to violent images caused psychological trauma. There’s a reason being a content moderator has been called “the worst job in technology.”It’s also an important job, and one that isn’t handled by Facebook employees. Instead, it’s outsourced to contractors, some of whom turn to drugs and sex in the workplace to distract themselves from the abhorrent images they see every day, according to a February story in The Verge, which reported that some of the workers make as little as $28,800 per year. That’s just over the federal poverty level for a family of four. Facebook said in May that it plans to raise the minimum hourly wage for contract workers, which is currently $15 per hour. Details of the working conditions of content moderators are still coming out. On Wednesday, The Verge reported that a content moderator who worked at a site in Florida operated by Cognizant died after having a heart attack at his desk. The site in Tampa was reportedly a stressful, dirty and unhealthy environment. Cognizant says that it works to “ensure a safe, clean, and supportive work environment.”Contracting in the tech industry has reached a flashpoint, escalating tensions in Silicon Valley’s world of haves and have-nots. Contractors and temps don’t get the health care or retirement benefits that full-time employees do, a difference that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year, contract workers at Google protested, demanding higher wages and benefits.Facebook said Wednesday it works with its contractors “to provide a level of support and compensation that leads the industry.” The social media giant also said its thoughts go out to family, friends and co-workers of the deceased moderator.”There will inevitably be employee challenges or dissatisfaction that call our commitment to this work and our partners’ employees into question,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “When the circumstances warrant action on the part of management, we make sure it happens.”Here’s a look at five of the companies that have worked with Facebook to police content.CognizantA multinational provider of services to technology, finance, health care, retail and other companies, Cognizant offers services including app development, consulting, information technology and digital strategy.Based in Teaneck, New Jersey, Cognizant has roughly 281,600 employees around the world, according to its annual report. Nearly 70 percent of its workforce is in India.The company’s role in supporting Facebook’s content moderation activities was the subject of recent stories in The Verge, which reported that roughly 1,000 Cognizant employees at its Phoenix office evaluate posts for potentially violating Facebook rules against hate speech, violence and terrorism. Cognizant Technology Solutions office in Chennai, India. The company works with Facebook on content moderation. Madhu Kapparath/Getty Images The workers get two 15-minute breaks, a 30-minute lunch and nine minutes of “wellness time” per day. They also have access to counselors and a hotline, according to the report.Still, some workers said that constant exposure to depravity has taken its toll. One former content moderator said he started to believe conspiracy theories, such as 9/11 being a hoax, after reviewing videos promoting the idea that the terrorist attack was faked. The former employee said he had brought a gun to work because he feared that fired employees would return to the office to harm those who still had jobs. Cognizant said in February it looked into “specific workplace issues raised in a recent report,” that it had “previously taken action where necessary” and that it has “steps in place to continue to address these concerns and any others raised by our employees.”The company outlined the resources it offers employees, including wellness classes, counselors and a 24-hour hotline.Cognizant also runs a site in Tampa, Florida that employs about 800 workers, according to The Verge. Workers at that facility have filed two sexual harassment complaints against coworkers since April. “Like any large employer, Cognizant routinely and professionally responds to and addresses general workplace and personnel issues in its facilities,” Cognizant said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our Tampa facility is no different. Cognizant works hard to ensure a safe, clean, and supportive work environment for all of our associates.”PRO UnlimitedBased in Boca Raton, Florida, PRO Unlimited provides services and software used by clients in more than 90 countries. Last year, Selena Scola, a former PRO Unlimited employee, who worked as a Facebook content moderator, filed a lawsuit alleging that she suffered from psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by viewing thousands of disturbing images of violence. Scola’s PTSD symptoms can pop up when she hears loud noises or touches a computer mouse, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was amended to include two more former content moderators who worked at Facebook through staffing companies. “Her symptoms are also triggered when she recalls or describes graphic imagery she was exposed to as a content moderator,” the lawsuit states, referring to Scola.Filed in superior court in Northern California’s San Mateo County, the lawsuit alleges Facebook violated California law by creating dangerous working conditions. Facebook content moderators are asked to review more than 10 million posts per week that may violate the social network’s rules, according to the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status.At the time the original lawsuit was filed, Facebook acknowledged the work can be stressful and said it requires the company it works with for content moderation to provide support such as counseling and relaxation areas.Facebook in a court filing denied Scola’s allegations and called for the case to be dismissed. A Facebook spokeswoman said the social media giant no longer uses PRO Unlimited for content moderation. PRO Unlimited didn’t respond to a request for comment.AccentureOne of the most prestigious consultancies in the world, Dublin-based Accenture has more than 459,000 people serving clients across 40 industries and in more than 120 countries, according to its website.People enter an Accenture office in downtown Helsinki. Jussi Nukari/Getty Images In February, Facebook content reviewers at an Accenture facility in Austin, Texas, complained about a “Big Brother” environment, alleging they weren’t allowed to use their phones at their desk or take “wellness” breaks during the first and last hour of their shift, according to a memo obtained by Business Insider. “Despite our pride in our work, Content Moderators have a secondary status in [the] hierarchy of the workplace, both within the Facebook and the Accenture structure,” the memo read. Accenture didn’t respond to a request for comment. At the time, Facebook said there had been a “misunderstanding” and that content moderators are encouraged to take wellness breaks at any time throughout the day. Some of Accenture’s clients have included other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon. More than three-quarters of Fortune Global 500 companies work with Accenture. ArvatoOne of Facebook’s largest content moderation centers is in Germany, a country that started enforcing a strict hate speech law last year that would fine social media companies up to 50 million euros ($58 million) if they didn’t pull down hate speech and other offensive content quickly enough. Arvato, owned by the German media company Bertelsmann, runs a content moderation center in Berlin. The company has faced complaints about working conditions and the toll the job takes on workers’ mental health.In 2017, Arvato said in a statement that it takes the well-being of its employees seriously and provides health care and access to company doctors, psychologists and social services. The company, based in Gütersloh, Germany, has 70,000 employees in more than 40 countries. It’s been providing Facebook with content moderation services since 2015. Arvato, which was rebranded last week as Majorel, said it offers content moderators a salary that’s 20 percent above minimum wage and support such as wellness classes and counselors. Workers can also take “resiliency breaks” at any time of the day.”We are proud to be a partner of Facebook and work in alignment with them to offer a competitive compensation package that includes a comprehensive benefits package,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to work together to improve our offerings and support of our employees.” GenpactNew York-based professional services firm Genpact won a contract with Facebook last year to provide content moderation, according to The Economic Times.Concerns about the mental health of Facebook content moderators weren’t enough to scare off applicants in India, who flocked to jobs that paid between 225,000 and 400,000 rupees a year (about $3,150-$5,600). Genpact was searching for content moderators fluent in Tamil, Punjabi and other Indian languages.Some Genpact workers have complained about low pay and a stressful work environment, according to a report this week by Reuters. One former Genpact employee told the news outlet that at least three times he’s “seen women employees breaking down on the floor, reliving the trauma of watching suicides real-time.”Facebook pushed back against allegations of low pay but outlined the work it was doing to improve working conditions for content moderators. In an email, a Genpact spokesperson confirmed that it partners with Facebook but said it doesn’t comment on work with clients. “As a company we bring our extensive experience in the field of content review and operations to our partners by providing industry-leading support for our team of content reviewers and a best-in-class working environment,” the Genpact spokesperson said in a statement. “We take very seriously this work and the services that we provide to our clients.”First published on March 1 at 4:00 a.m. PTUpdate, 4:03 p.m. PT: Includes new material from Facebook about PRO Unlimited. Update, 5:24 p.m. PT: Includes material about an amended lawsuit against Facebook.Update, June 19: Includes new reported details of a Cognizant facility in Tampa, Florida.
Update: After many rumours around Ratan Tata’s exit from Tata Trusts, he clarified on Friday that he has no plans of stepping down anytime soon. Chairman of Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata, is most likely to step down from the position and the selection of the next chairman is likely to happen by mid-2017. Tata Trusts controls 66 percent of Tata Sons, which was mired in controversy after its chairman Cyrus Mistry was publicly ousted from his position.Ratan Tata is unlikely to remain a trustee once the new chairman takes over. With him departing, his close aide R Venkataramanan will also most likely leave to manage his personal investments. When Mistry had taken the position, it was the first time that a Tata Sons chairman was not made the chairman of Tata Trusts in 2012. Ratan Tata, who is accused of controlling the company from behind the curtain, will likely leave the company and focus on his $250 million venture capital fund UCRNT, in association with the University of California. “The next chairman has to be someone who has the right vision and be in complete alignment with the will of the Tata Group founders,” Krishna Kumar, a group veteran and Tata trustee told the Times of India. An external consultant has been hired by Tata Trusts to figure out who the next chairman will be. It could be someone non-Parsi and not a member of Tata family. The new appointee will initially work with Ratan Tata as deputy chairman and then take over.Kumar also said that Tata Trusts and Tata Sons chairman will be different. The next-appointee will be someone in mid-50s to early 60s and not necessarily Parsi. “It is very unlikely that it will be a foreign passport holder. The person needs to be an Indian and understand what is good for India,” Krishna Kumar added. Recently, the company was mired in controversy after Cyrus Mistry was ousted. Kumar told the ET that Ratan Tata and N Soonawala had been holding talks with Mistry over the way he was running the company. He refuted that his ouster was sudden. “Many meetings were held in Bombay House,” he said. read more
Benchmark stock market indices — the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty — may react to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on Saturday (December 24) that those who make money from financial markets should pay taxes for nation-building. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL) and ONGC are likely to remain in focus for different reasons.Inaugurating the NISM campus near Mumbai on Saturday, Modi had said, “…those who profit from financial markets must make a fair contribution to nation-building through taxes. For various reasons, the contribution of tax from those who make money on the markets has been low.”This is being interpreted as a possible tax on long-term capital gains (LTCG) that are currently exempt from tax, while short-term capital gains (STCG) attract 15 percent tax. A gain in the context of shares is defined as LTCG if the asset (share) is sold after holding it for more than 12 months.Arun Jaitley, finance minister, has said that the interpretation of PM Modi’s speech is “erroneous”. “PM has made no such statement, directly or indirectly,” the ANI tweeted, quoting Jaitley.The Income Tax Act lays down the provisions governing LTCG for both listed and unlisted shares.”Any capital asset held by the taxpayer for a period of more than 36 months immediately preceding the date of its transfer will be treated as a long-term capital asset. However, in respect of certain assets like shares (equity or preference) which are listed in a recognized stock exchange in India (listing of shares is not mandatory if transfer of such shares took place on or before July 10, 2014), units of equity oriented mutual funds, listed securities like debentures and Government securities, Units of UTI and Zero Coupon Bonds, the period of holding to be considered is 12 months instead of 36 months.””With effect from Assessment Year 2017-18, period of holding to be considered as 24 months instead of 36 months in the case of unlisted shares of a company,” it added.Either the government could introduce LTCG tax in the forthcoming budget (Budget 2017) or re-define the concept of LTCG.ONGC to acquire KG assets for $1.2 billionIn a regulatory filing, state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) said that it will be acquiring the Krishna-Godavari Basin assets from Gujarat State Petronet Corporation (GSPC) for $1.2 billion.”ONGC Board today (Friday) considered the proposal and approved the acquisition of the entire 80% Participating Interest (PI) of GSPC along with operatorship rights, at a purchase consideration of $ 995.26 million for Deen Dayal West Field in the Block. GSPC has already built significant production facilities like well head platforms, process cum living quarter platform, onshore gas terminal, export pipeline for transporting treated well fluid from process platform to onshore terminal etc.”ONGC shall also pay part consideration of US$ 200 million to GSPC towards future consideration for six discoveries other than Deen Dayal West Field, which will be adjusted upon the valuation of these discoveries subsequent to approval their Field Development Plans by DGH / Management Committee of the Block,” the company informed the BSE.ONGC shares closed at Rs 193 apiece last Friday on the BSE.Maruti Suzuki (MSIL) sends mixed signalsIndia’s largest carmaker MSIL reiterated its full-year volume growth of 10 percent for 2016-17, translating into 1.56-57 million vehicles, despite demonetisation hitting sales in November and keeping December volume growth at an estimated 7 percent.The calendar year 2017 is being viewed by MSIL as the return of high growth, albeit at lower margins, according to a note by brokerage IDBI Capital Markets & Securities.”The company believes it will continue its outperformance vis-à-vis peers on the back of share gains in the lucrative UV segment, expansion of its NEXA reach and new launches in CY17. Discounts for Q3 will be elevated due to the current demonetization effect, with MSIL (as well as other competitors) increasing discounts (by 1.5x-2x) on models such as the Ciaz, Celerio, Swift, EEco, Omni, Alto and Dzire.”MSIL is banking on Ignis and Baleno to drive sales, in addition to facelifts to two other models.”The Ignis is launching in mid-Jan, followed by the Baleno RS in Feb/March. This will be followed by much-needed facelifts to the Swift/Dzire series which is likely to be launched before November 2017. The ramp up of the new plant is expected to be complete by Oct’17,” IDBI Capital Markets further said in its note.The company had sold 1.03 million (10.36 lakh) till November in the current fiscal, marking a growth of 9.1 percent over 9.49 lakh vehicles sold in the corresponding period for 2015-16.MSIL shares closed at Rs 51,93 last Friday on the BSE. read more
New generations take inspiration from the glorious history of Bangladesh’s youth force in 1971 for bringing changes whenever necessary, the youth of today and of yesteryears acknowledge.Freeing the country was the main driving force, some freedom fighters recalled. Their joining the 1971 liberation war was triggered by the denial of democratic rights of people.The spirit of liberation war was reverberated during the subsequent movements, especially the one by students in 1990, to restore democracy in the country.While some see the 1990 movement as an extension of 1971, the youth today still dream of taking Bangladesh to the next stage of nation-building and development in the light of liberation war spirit. The young demonstrators of safe roads and some other recent movements have all shown their respect for the 1971 youth.Like some others of the 1971 generation, Md. Shahidul Alam, a freedom fighter from Kusthia’s Kumarkhali, had fixed his first objective to liberate the motherland from the occupation of the Pakistan military.“Of course then consciously, our collective dream was to get a democratic country where we’ll not face any disparity of any kind,” Shahidul said, lamenting that “many of our dreams of liberation war remain unfulfilled.”A college boy in 1971, Shahidul Alam was caught at the hands of razakars (auxiliary force of the Pakistani army) at the beginning of December when the nation was inching towards freedom, he told Prothom Alo.He was a freedom fighter, and so were his two other brothers. As a patron of the freedom fighters, his father was targeted by the Pakistani forces.He mentioned that at one night, the razakars held Shahidul and his father and took them to nearby riverbank in Kumarkhali and shot them. Shahidul’s father was shot dead and his body could never be recovered.Despite being bullet-hit in right arm and left leg, Shahidul managed to swim across the river.“To be honest, I didn’t have any of the high hopes in 71. My only thought was liberating our motherland so that we could breathe in a free country,” he said recently.With hindsight, he thought the Pakistani authorities committed two major mistakes by denying the Awami League power even after election victory in 1970 and by launching the crackdown on the Bangalees on 25 March 1971.Sad to see that many of the dreams of his generation not being materialised, Shahidul still leaves the responsibility to the younger generation of Bangladesh to work for fulfilling the dreams of older ones.Md Hamidur Rahman, another freedom fighter, emphasised the innocence in a fighter in joining war for the country.“Not all the freedom fighters had that deep understanding, but all had a common goal — to free the country,” said Hamidur, who was BSc student at Dhaka College and resident of Mohammadpur in 1971.“Initially we had nothing on our minds except saving our livee. Then we took training and joined the guerilla warfare.”Hamidur escaped the 25 March crackdown, left Dhaka city in early April and reached India through Nilphamari after a fateful journey of eight days.“We couldn’t even fully realise how powerful an army we’re fighting against. Only thing we had in mind was to get independence at any cost,” he pointed out.Masuk Ahmed Chowdhury of Sylhet is a bridge between generations two of his elder brothers were freedom fighters and he was a participant of the mass movement of 1990 that brought an end to the autocratic rule of HM Ershad.He thinks the dreams of 1971 might often be stumbled but the glorious history of nine months of war had always been the source of inspiration for youth.“It’s like passing the baton from one generation to another,” he said adding that the liberation war led to the student-mass upsurge of 1990 and that the target was democracy, also a key demand in 1971.“Getting a democratic country was one of the main guiding forces of our liberation war, a process which was resurfaced in 1990 after years of military rule,” Masuk expressed his views.When asked about their dreams, some youth observed that the freedom fighters had done their job.“We are at the age similar to most of freedom fighters during 1971. If they could do such an enormous task like liberating the country, why don’t we try to realise the dreams and the cause they fought for,” said Dhaka University student Ishrat Jahan, herself daughter of a freedom fighter.A truly democratic country free from corruption with equal rights for all is what she derived as her dream from the dreams of 1971.Nazmus Sakib, a student of Dhaka Residential Model School and College, said, “Freedom fighters should be given the most revered place in our history.” read more