Author: diamondbeatitude

“The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed”


A contractor at the Manila office of TaskUs, a firm that provides content moderation services to U.S. tech companies.

I found this interesting and it relates to our last class discussion; who moderates the content on social media, in this case, Facebook

The campuses of the tech industry are famous for their lavish cafeterias, cushy shuttles, and on-site laundry services. But on a muggy February afternoon, some of these companies’ most important work is being done 7,000 miles away, on the second floor of a former elementary school at the end of a row of auto mechanics’ stalls in Bacoor, a gritty Filipino town 13 miles southwest of Manila. When I climb the building’s narrow stairwell, I need to press against the wall to slide by workers heading down for a smoke break. Up one flight, a drowsy security guard staffs what passes for a front desk: a wooden table in a dark hallway overflowing with file folders.

Past the guard, in a large room packed with workers manning PCs on long tables, I meet Michael Baybayan, an enthusiastic 21-year-old with a jaunty pouf of reddish-brown hair. If the space does not resemble a typical startup’s office, the image on Baybayan’s screen does not resemble typical startup work: It appears to show a super-close-up photo of a two-pronged dildo wedged in a vagina. I say appears because I can barely begin to make sense of the image, a baseball-card-sized abstraction of flesh and translucent pink plastic, before he disappears it with a casual flick of his mouse.

Baybayan is part of a massive labor force that handles “content moderation”—the removal of offensive material—for US social-networking sites. As social media connects more people more intimately than ever before, companies have been confronted with the Grandma Problem: Now that grandparents routinely use services like Facebook to connect with their kids and grandkids, they are potentially exposed to the Internet’s panoply of jerks, racists, creeps, criminals, and bullies. They won’t continue to log on if they find their family photos sandwiched between a gruesome Russian highway accident and a hardcore porn video. Social media’s growth into a multibillion-dollar industry, and its lasting mainstream appeal, has depended in large part on companies’ ability to police the borders of their user-generated content—to ensure that Grandma never has to see images like the one Baybayan just nuked.

So companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on an army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us. And there are legions of them—a vast, invisible pool of human labor. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of MySpace who now runs online safety consultancy SSP Blue, estimates that the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.

This work is increasingly done in the Philippines. A former US colony, the Philippines has maintained close cultural ties to the United States, which content moderation companies say helps Filipinos determine what Americans find offensive. And moderators in the Philippines can be hired for a fraction of American wages. Ryan Cardeno, a former contractor for Microsoft in the Philippines, told me that he made $500 per month by the end of his three-and-a-half-year tenure with outsourcing firm Sykes. Last year, Cardeno was offered $312 per month by another firm to moderate content for Facebook, paltry even by industry standards.

Here in the former elementary school, Baybayan and his coworkers are screening content for Whisper, an LA-based mobile startup—recently valued at $200 million by its VCs—that lets users post photos and share secrets anonymously. They work for a US-based outsourcing firm called TaskUs. It’s something of a surprise that Whisper would let a reporter in to see this process. When I asked Microsoft, Google, and Facebook for information about how they moderate their services, they offered vague statements about protecting users but declined to discuss specifics. Many tech companies make their moderators sign strict nondisclosure agreements, barring them from talking even to other employees of the same outsourcing firm about their work.

“I think if there’s not an explicit campaign to hide it, there’s certainly a tacit one,” says Sarah Roberts, a media studies scholar at the University of Western Ontario and one of the few academics who study commercial content moderation. Companies would prefer not to acknowledge the hands-on effort required to curate our social media experiences, Roberts says. “It goes to our misunderstandings about the Internet and our view of technology as being somehow magically not human.”

I  was given a look at the Whisper moderation process because Michael Heyward, Whisper’s CEO, sees moderation as an integral feature and a key selling point of his app. Whisper practices “active moderation,” an especially labor-intensive process in which every single post is screened in real time; many other companies moderate content only if it’s been flagged as objectionable by users, which is known as reactive moderating. “The type of space we’re trying to create with anonymity is one where we’re asking users to put themselves out there and feel vulnerable,” he tells me. “Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s tough to put it back in.”

Watching Baybayan’s work makes terrifyingly clear the amount of labor that goes into keeping Whisper’s toothpaste in the tube. (After my visit, Baybayan left his job and the Bacoor office of TaskUs was raided by the Philippine version of the FBI for allegedly using pirated software on its computers. The company has since moved its content moderation operations to a new facility in Manila.) He begins with a grid of posts, each of which is a rectangular photo, many with bold text overlays—the same rough format as old-school Internet memes. In its freewheeling anonymity, Whisper functions for its users as a sort of externalized id, an outlet for confessions, rants, and secret desires that might be too sensitive (or too boring) for Facebook or Twitter. Moderators here view a raw feed of Whisper posts in real time. Shorn from context, the posts read like the collected tics of a Tourette’s sufferer. Any bisexual women in NYC wanna chat? Or: I hate Irish accents! Or: I fucked my stepdad then blackmailed him into buying me a car.

link to original article, all above was copy pasted:

here is a link to an article on the comment clean up on Youtube:


Blog Post 2

My bedroom was the space that I listed as my favourite in my first blog post. In terms of analyzing the space through Lefebrve’s triad,  I can say quite a bit in terms to the spatial parctices, representational space and the representation of my space.


The spatial practices relating to my room involve my daily practices; my routine. My room is used for several st of four panels also makes for a new way of tying them up and opening them everyday.

The representational space aspect of my room, relating to my imagination and ideals is one of my favourite branches of the triad.  Imagination has everything to do with how my room has evolved and

In the winter time, my bedroom is a completely different environment, I open the


Whiteness, Colonisation and Racist Legislation

February 18th 2015 COMS 324  

Sarah Ahmed speaks of whiteness not as an object but as a phenomenological issue. How is whiteness constructed through the corporeal? How is it constructed through the tactile, kinesthetic, vestibular and visual characteristics of objects and subjects in space, which are stored in our memory and comprise our habitual knowledge? She states that phenomenology can show us how whiteness is an effect of racialization, which in turn shapes what bodies are able to do. Ahmed takes the way many people are accustomed to thinking about race – as a set of of racial signifiers that are inherited as traits within a familial framework, to formulate a new concept that uses inheritance to explain race as an effect of space and bodies throughout time. Drawing from Frantz Fanon, she talks about how bodies are shaped by histories of Colonialism, which makes the world ‘white’.  This is a world ‘ready’ for white bodies, a world predisposed to allow the actions of these bodies to go unchallenged and unhindered. Race is what we receive from others as an inheritance of this history, the way we accumulate what is ‘left behind’.   

If bodies are about what they do, might also shape what they can or cannot do. This perception or attitude is a “spatiality-position” one would adopt. Pamela George’s aggressors had to leave their white predominant middle class cities to be able to alter their own behaviour. Spaces of university, arenas and suburban households are space of civility. The surfaces of social space are already internalized by the meaning of such space into bodies. In order to affirm their ‘superiority’ they had to cross the line between respectability and degeneracy: they had to move from their respectable place to a degenerative one. When they landed on the Stroll (which is described as the dark side of the city and a dangerous world of racial Others) with their White orientation, they knew they were strangers on a mission: A mission they would accomplish before heading back to the world they embodied.

In the article by Anna Mehler Paperny, she talks about Canada’s tactiques for weeding out the unwanted immigrants. Canada comes off as being a welcoming haven for persecuted individuals, yet, persons are frequently paid to leave the country or find themselves jailed without purpose. In the case of the Roma refugee claimants, canadian minister Jason Kenney actually travelled to Hungary in an attempt to discourage  any refugees from coming to Canada to file claims. That is one example of a measure put in place, at some point Canada even refused health care to claimants whose status was undetermined; however, this was overturned by court as it was found to be cruel. Canada has made decisions that led to deaths of people that could have been prevented, in addition to paying an extraordinary sum yearly to people to get them to leave. More specifically, over  3,600 people have been paid money to leave adding up to a sum of $7.5 million in the recent two years.  


In what cases could it be right make decisions and create legislation centered around gender and racial bias ?  
How would the phenomenon of ‘colonization’ apply to the Pamela George case study?

Mis-Guide to Loyola – Kid on Campus

We were inspired by a book written by Julio Cortazar in which he encourages the reader to read the book either in order or in a completely different order than that given in order to obtain a different experience.

The goal of our map is to give its user’s the chance to experience the campus a freely and as playfully as a child would. By encouraging them to think about their needs in the moment, to make funny sounds and to draw in the snow we are creating a new type of experience in a space that is used daily. Children do not remember the names of building, streets and neighbourhoods; instead, they remember the experiences that they have had in certain places and go o to identify those spaces thanks to the recollection of that moment.

Our hope is that once the users will have completed our mis-guide, that the locations indicated will then hold these emotional memories; that the users will then pass by these locations, some of which they will have hopefully discovered thanks to our map, and that they can smile and reminisce on the uncanny good time that they once had there.

Our map includes 7 locations, some outdoors, some indoors. In each locations the user is encouraged to do something fun and silly and the instructions are given out in the form of a riddle/short rhyme. Lastly, there are two ways that the users can follow this map: either by chronologically following the order of the numbers or by tossing a coin onto the box, to allude to the game of hopscotch, and visit the places according to where the coin landed.


Virtual Reality Porn – NSFW, Coarse Language**

Just watched this, found it funny so maybe it could serve as a little Friday Entertainment + It relates to our discussion yesterday.

Have a good upcoming weekend, see you all Wednesday!