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Infinit Care Spotlight Series: A closer look at worker profiles that need workplace mental health support

May 26, 2022 8:00 p.m.

Being on the internet has become a regular part of our everyday life. According to the latest statistics, 3.96 billion people use social media globally, with each person spending an average of 147 minutes or two hours and seven minutes on digital platforms every day.

These are significant figures if you look at them from the context of the level of exposure we get from the digital platforms we access.

Over the last few years, the internet has played a pivotal role in society–building businesses and new industries, creating new needs, and of course, shaping the mindset of the public as a whole. Without a doubt, the internet has become so powerful that it can shape generations and the way they think and act as a whole.

But have you ever wondered how information is sifted and checked in the online worlds we love to immerse ourselves in?

Websites and applications, big and small, have community guidelines that protect their users from being exposed to harmful information, but who exactly are the people working behind the scenes and doing the heavy lifting of screening this information?

In this article, we will talk about the sentinels of the internet and the plight that comes with their profession.

Meet the Content Moderators.

Content Moderation in a Nutshell

Content moderation, at its simplest, is the process of screening and monitoring user-generated content posted on online platforms.

Whenever a user submits or uploads something to a website, moderators go through the content to make sure that the material follows the community regulations and is not criminal or illegal in nature.

Some examples of banned content that content moderators screen are those that contain sexual themes, drugs, bigotry, homophobia, harassment, and racism.

While content moderation is applied to a majority of online platforms, they are even more so practiced in websites with a heavy lean toward user-generated uploads.

This includes social media platforms, online marketplaces, communities and forums, the sharing economy, and even dating sites.

There are two different types of content moderation that websites use: AI-automated and human moderation.

In the first type, a machine learning system is designed to moderate posts based on previous data gathered from the internet.

AI moderation is significantly faster–sometimes only taking seconds to review posts, but it might not always be 100 percent accurate because it relies on machine learning which may not always pick up the right cues.

Human moderation, on the other hand, is a manual type of process that involves an actual person who reviews the posts.

Under this category, the screener follows specific platform rules and guidelines to check the user-generated content submitted to the website. While this type of moderation is more foolproof than its counterpart, it also takes more time due to its manual nature.

Moreover, it also presents a serious problem within its workforce that unfortunately, is not often well addressed: mental distress.

The Dark Side of Content Moderation

While content moderation remains to be a discreet profession, at least in the Philippines, more and more people who have worked in the field have stepped up over the recent years to speak up about the challenges and dangers that are prevalent in the industry.

A riveting 2018 internationally produced documentary titled ‘The Cleaners’ gave an exhaustive look at the plight of moderators in the country who worked for online giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and tackled the subject of their mental health struggles from their job.

Facebook itself has acknowledged the difficulties that come with the profession while Microsoft has faced lawsuits from former employees who claim that they were not given proper support despite the psychological dangers of their job.

Moderators sift through hundreds of submissions that contain triggering content not limited to depictions of death, torture, mutilation, and violence for hours, sometimes with only limited time for breaks.

The nature of the work can lead to the development of mental distress and psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and even depression.

This is something that is also supported by data from other studies in journalism, law enforcement, and child protection which claim that repeated trauma exposure can lead to psychological distress.

On top of that, workers in the said areas have also been stated to suffer more from burnout, relationship challenges, and even suicide.

The following are other mental health problems that can arise from exposure to toxic content:

  • Panic attacks – some moderators have expressed feeling attacks when being around animals and children–fearing something will happen to them–after repeated exposure to violent videos.
  • Normalization/Desensitization to disturbing humor and language – repetitive exposure to disturbing content can change the mindsets and perspectives of its audience, leading to inappropriate humor and language.
  • Self-destructive habits – alcoholism, use of drugs, and display of indiscriminate sexual habits have supposedly also been reported in the workplaces of moderators who presumedly engage in them as a way of emotional escape to their job.
  • Skewed beliefs – in some cases, some content moderators can also develop fringe views (e.g. believing conspiracy theories) that are not supported by hard facts because of constant exposure to their materials.

The Cost of Internet Safety

Without a doubt, content moderators serve as the first layer of protection of the general public from disturbing and harmful materials.

Unfortunately, they are not always properly protected from the rigors that come with their profession.

Unlike different workplaces (for example, those in the health sector, law and policing, and journalism) which have more solid guidelines when it comes to taking care of the mental needs of their workforce, there is an obvious lack of the same system for those working in the content moderation industry.

In an article by Harvard, it is even said that companies are even very restrictive about letting others investigate their existing procedures and treatment of these workers.

Not only are there no third parties monitoring the welfare of employees, but people working in the industry are also commonly asked to refrain from talking about their work through non-disclosure contracts.

Fortunately, some companies have also taken the initiative to develop workplace guidelines that can improve the treatment of those in the industry.

Facebook, for example, helped create the Technology Coalition which then designed the Employee Resilience Guidebook, a guide that outlines rules protecting the occupational health and safety of workers reviewing distressing content.

While the guidelines were made for those who are focused on employees dealing with child pornography, it also has terms that can be used for others in professions that expose workers to distressing imagery and content.

Specifically, the guide includes rules such as the provision of mandatory individual and group counseling sessions with a certified trauma specialist, limiting exposure to disturbing content for four hours, giving employees the choice to opt out of viewing specific disturbing content, encouraging them to switch to other projects as a form of relief, and giving them enough time to take a break and recover from their work.

Protecting the Protectors

While overarching guidelines are already being developed on a global scale, it cannot be debated that a huge chunk of the responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the employers who are in a better position to observe and improve the best practices in this area.

Here at Infinit Care, for example, we follow a tried and tested framework, the Mental Health Continuum, to make sure that every employee working in high-risk professions gets the mental health support that they need, wherever they are on the scale – whether they are excelling, surviving or in crises. (Click here to know more about the Mental Health Continuum.)

Our Head of Clinical Care Shyne Mangulabnan suggests several ways on how employers can put this to work.

“Having a counseling professional who can help these employees is essential as well as having a solid support and assessment system for them. For example, surveys given to agents which can be used as a reference for the design of a wellness strategy is a good place to start. Constant monitoring of employees should also be done to make sure that their needs are met.”

On top of that, Mangulabnan also suggests creating proper escalation procedures for concerns relating to the mental health challenges of content moderators.

Proper education of important stakeholders within the company (human resource team, upper management) about mental health risks of the job is also necessary since they are the decision-makers who create systems that take care of employees.

“It would be best to have an end-to-end solution: an onboarding process that gives candidates the training and education they need to understand the risks and concepts of well-being,  round-the-clock onsite and virtual counseling services, community support groups, yoga and meditation activities, and workshops are just some of the many things that employers can initiate to make sure that they give the support that their workforce needs.”

True enough, it is the responsibility of employers to make sure that they ‘protect the protectors’ of the internet.

However, it’s not only the content moderators who should be given this kind of support, especially with 43 percent of the global workforce expressing that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the stress that they suffer from work.

This story is just the first chapter of a series that will shed light on all the professions who need mental health support most in these trying times.

Do you need help on how you can start caring for your employees in this aspect? We’d be more than happy to guide you here at Infinit Care. We are a company that helps other companies provide comprehensive mental health care support to their employees through the use of science-backed methodologies. You can reach out to us here to know more about how we can help.

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NEWS

How to watch NSFW/NSFL content safely and discreetly

February 12, 2024 1:55 p.m.

Want to hide your guilty pleasures from prying eyes? Do it properly, suggests Kaspersky experts

You may have already heard about NSFW (not-safe-for-work) or NSFL (not-safe-for-life) and what it means to your self-preservation or at the very least, your reputation. 

If you’re still clueless, it refers to online content that is best viewed in private. Examples would be medications you take, gifts you were checking out for your loved ones and sensitive videos you watched before bed.  

“The kind and amount of information that we can now access through the internet is almost limitless. And many of us are happy to do things online. On the flipside, our research shows some prefer to keep those habits to themselves. In fact, many see the Internet as a place to hide,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. 

In a study by Kaspersky on digital privacy, almost half of respondents (41%) said they apply additional measures when browsing the Internet to hide their information from the websites they visit. The same study revealed that family members, colleagues and the government are the top three groups of people we don’t want to know certain things about us. 

“With online content at our fingertips, people will read and watch online whatever they want to. Whichever it is, we recommend doing it safely. Remember your digital reputation is closely linked to your personal reputation. With a stroke of unfortunate luck, your online habit or personal information can accidentally become available to others, despite your wishes. Not only would it make you a target of malware but it could end up costing you your job,” added Yeo. 

This article explains who can catch sight of your online activities and how to make sure your secrets are safe.

  1. Your family

You likely share a computer and a Wifi network with your family. This means your partner, kids, or parents—anyone you share a home with—could discover traces of your online activities. Here are what could give you away:

  • Browser history It remembers the websites you visit and suggests them the next time you want to visit one of them. It can come in handy but can lead to some awkward moments like if your partner or your child types in the letter P (for Pinterest) and gets a suggestion for P(ornhub). 
  • Targeted advertising When you open a website, the browser saves cookie files on your computer, which allows the site to remember things about you (like your username, pages you viewed, contents of your shopping cart, etc). They also give ad network-partners of the website’s owner information about you for suggesting similar content. The giants of the Web, such as Google, will not show erotic banners, of course. But less-scrupulous ad networks may. 

Tip: It’s best to go into incognito mode before watching private videos, to avoid embarrassment later. Using it avoids leaving browsing traces for your family to discover. Some browsers such as Yandex.Browser will suggest it if you open a porn site. By running in incognito mode, your browser stores no cookies and no search history. Your family will see none of those treacherous suggestions in the address bar.

As for the cookies and browser history you have already accumulated, clear them. Open the browser’s settings: In Chrome, for example, the option will be visible immediately, and in Firefox, you will need to go to the Privacy & Security tab.

  1. Internet giants

Cookies are not the only way to find out about your interests, so incognito mode will not hide information about your hobbies from big Internet corporations. Facebook will still learn about the things you like if you visit websites that are integrated with its analytics and advertising modules — and you would not believe how many of those are around. 

Google will still remember what you searched for and what sites you opened in Chrome. This year, Pornhub revealed that the Philippines topped its website viewership for the fourth consecutive year. The website shared that they’ve monitored getting more female viewers than male viewers in the country through the demographics data tracking of Google Analytics.

Tip: Fortunately, not all companies want to collect all of the data they can about you. Privacy-centric browsers like Firefox and search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage.com, along with the Private Browsing feature in Kaspersky products can help prevent tracking by advertising networks and Internet giants. 

  1. Your ISP

Few will pause to think that their ISP, as well as the owner of the free Wi-Fi they are using, can monitor their traffic. We suggest you put some safety measures in place, which is not nearly as hard as it may sound, unless you like the thought of your passions becoming some mischievous ISP employee’s source of entertainment.

Tip: Use a secure connection like a VPN (virtual private network) to dodge those whose curiosity gets the better of them. Doing so will encrypt your traffic so strongly that the ISP will see nothing but gibberish.

  1. Porn scammers

Scammers who email you saying they have infected your computer with malware and used a Web camera to make a video of your naughty pleasures really have no idea if you have been watching porn or not. They are simply mass-mailing their threats in the hope that someone will bite. 

Tip: Do not fret. Never pay scammers who claim to have caught you watching adult content. If you receive an email like that, send it straight to spam.

Remember safety measures

Although the creators of well-known porn websites protect their reputations, it is not impossible to get your device infected while searching for adult videos. From time to time, cybercriminals hack networks that display ads on such websites or attempt to pass off a fake.

The malware is unlikely to hack your webcam, but it may very well block your screen with an explicit picture or start displaying gobs of explicit ads in your browser. So, remember these safety measures.

  1. Choose websites you know. Avoid opening questionable websites from search results that promise premium content free.
  2. Download apps from official sources only.
  3. Do not click on links in ads, even if they are hard to resist.
  4. Use a robust protective solution such as Kaspersky Premium. It will block a malicious program, should one attempt to infect your device. 
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NEWS

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Honolulu Cafe

February 10, 2024 5:34 p.m.

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Honolulu Cafe.

Try their best- seller Roasted Pork Belly and Egg Tarts.

Roasted Pork Belly
Egg tarts

Honolulu Cafe located at SM Aura, Robinson’s Place Manila and Greenbelt 5.

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NEWS

DITO breaking barriers with lowest postpaid plan, UNLI 5G Offers

February 1, 2024 6:21 p.m.

DITO Telecommunity, the fastest-growing telecommunications provider in the country, disrupts the postpaid market with its newest and most affordable postpaid plans- DITO Mobile Postpaid FLEXPlan 388 and UNLIMITED 5G data offering for all SIM-Only plans- both designed to provide Filipinos with data-packed plans at the most affordable prices. 

The new FLEXPlan 388 SIM-Only is DITO’s starter plan for individuals who want to start their postpaid journey. Customers can enjoy a total of 50GB of data; the usual 25GB plus an additional 25GB of 5G data, UNLI all-net calls & texts, and a bonus 12-month Prime Video subscription- all these with absolutely no lock-in period. 

In addition to all these values, DITO is also giving all new FLEXPlan 388 subscribers a special introductory offer of PHP 288 per month for the first three months, valid for a limited period.

“In time for the new year, our DITO Mobile Postpaid FLEXPlan 388 is our best and lowest postpaid deal yet since we launched our postpaid plans last year. Introducing this plan is a testament to our commitment to providing equal access to everyone, ensuring that our customers receive exceptional value-for-money plans without spending much,” said Evelyn Jimenez, DITO Chief Commercial Officer. 

Customers can apply for DITO FLEXPlan 388 SIM-Only via the DITO App, DITO Website, DITO Experience Stores, and device retail partners.

Additionally, DITO revamps its SIM-Only Plans and introduces UNLIMITED 5G data offerings for SIM-Only Plans for as low as Php 888, which comes with 40GB of 4G data per month. 

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All SIM-Only plans come with UNLI all-net calls and texts and no lock-in period. Customers can also enjoy DITO’s Advance Pay feature for SIM-Only Plans, which allows advance payments for monthly subscription fees with up to 40% discount! 

“Meanwhile, we also revamped our SIM-Only plans and added UNLIMITED 5G data offerings because we want to provide our customers with limitless browsing experience and unparalleled 5G service to elevate their digital lifestyles at very affordable costs,” Jimenez added. 

To enjoy UNLI 5G postpaid plans, customers can apply via the DITO App, DITO Website, or DITO Experience Stores nationwide. 

“At DITO, we ensure that our connectivity meets affordability. We aim to bridge the gap between our customers’ digital dreams and reality. We want to democratize the postpaid market and give every individual the chance to experience the benefits of mobile postpaid,” Jimenez concluded. 

For more updates on the latest postpaid offers, visit https://dito.ph/postpaid.  

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