The utopian vision that originally drove Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter to create a global community has met some dramatic challenges recently. Social Mediahave increasingly become a source to spread terrorist propaganda, and radicalize opinions that have had decisive effects in national elections and political processes all over the world.
Political and social pressure has grown to censor hate speech, and controversial content, but the rules, criteria and processes by which companies curate their content is one of the best-kept secrets in Silicon Valley.
The Cleaners uncovers this inner system of content moderation for the first time. While the policies are written up in the head quarters of Silicon Valley the ultimate decision on the “suitability” of what will remain and what will be deleted must be made by a human being, usually an employee of an off shore outsourcing company.
The global headquarter for content moderation is Manila in the Philippines, where tens of thousands of young people are employed as “digital scavengers” to moderate thousands of troublesome images and videos in 10 hour shifts. By following five content moderators in Manila we understand the complexity of their work, and we see how the decisions in a remote place like Manila can affect personal lives, and political processes globally.
2018, 90 minutes.
Directed by: Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block.
Executive production: Fernando Dias, Mauricio Dias and Christian Beetz.
Coproduction Grifa Filmes and Gebrueder BeetzFilmproduktion.