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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.

NEWS

Niantic, NBA, NBPA team up for NBA All-World

June 29, 2022 7:31 p.m.

NEW YORK — Niantic announced a partnership with the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association to create an original augmented reality mobile game: NBA All-World. 

NBA All-World is a first-of-its-kind game that will place NBA fans into the real-world metaverse.  

NBA All-World is a free-to-play officially licensed geolocation basketball game where players can find, challenge, and compete against today’s NBA ballers in their neighborhoods, then recruit them to their team before proving themselves on the court.  

“NBA All-World represents an industry first in sports games, as an original, real-world AR game that will appeal to casual and core NBA fans alike,” said Marcus Matthews, Senior Producer at Niantic. 

“We’re creating and designing a game that empowers players to represent where they’re from and showcase the culture of their neighborhood.” 

“Through our partnership with Niantic, NBA All-World will provide fans across the globe the opportunity to fully immerse themselves into the energy and excitement of the NBA,” said Matt Holt, Head of Consumer Products at the NBA. 

“Evident in the name of the game itself, we look forward to engaging with our fans around the world through this captivating experience.” 

“NBA-All World gives us the opportunity to bring NBA players into Niantic’s real-world metaverse, opening up paths for fans to interact with them in a new way,” said Josh Goodstadt, EVP of Licensing for THINK450, the innovation engine of the NBPA.

“Niantic has proven experience building games that encourage engagement in local communities, and having our players integrated into NBA All-World adds to that immersion.” 

Additionally, NBA All-World will embrace the fashion of the NBA, with users having the ability to outfit players in the game with custom apparel.  

Players can sign-up to be notified when NBA All-World is available in their country by visiting NBAAll-World.com. 

Those who sign up will be able to experience an exclusive All-World AR web experience and be the first to be notified about securing their codename for global launch.

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8 facts about foodpanda on its 8th birthday in PH

June 28, 2022 8:23 p.m.

Thanks to online food and groceries delivery services, getting your food is so much easier now. With platforms like foodpanda, you can order instantly and enjoy a delicious meal within minutes. And nothing beats the excitement of getting a call from a Kuya or Ate Ka-Panda rider/biker/walker to tell you that your order has arrived.

As the leading quick commerce digital platform, foodpanda lets you order from your favorite restaurants and shops offering a wide variety of choices – meals, snacks, groceries, and other daily essentials. With 8 years of delivering food and more in the Philippines, life would never be the same without our favorite pink panda brand that has captured the hearts (and tummies!) of many Filipinos. But aside from satisfying your cravings, your curiosity will also be captured by these mind-blowing facts about the country’s go-to online food and groceries delivery app.

As foodpanda turns 8 this year, we’re treating you to some interesting trivia that you probably don’t know about them yet. 

  1. From orange to pink

                     

If anything, foodpanda is best associated with their logo – the pink panda. But you’d be surprised to know that it was originally orange before they made the switch to pink, back in 2017. The fuschia-pink look is definitely a lot of fun, and clearly shows that foodpanda is ever-growing, expanding, and not afraid to take that big leap to cater to all of your food needs.

  1. Leadership at a crucial time

Transitions are hard enough to begin with, but to do it at the most crucial of times would require exceptional skills – one that Daniel Marogy, managing director of foodpanda Philippines, proved to have when he joined the team a day before the lockdown. “That was a very challenging time for me, but it was made bearable because of the competitive foodpanda team led by very compassionate leaders and dedicated team members who helped me steer the ship in the right direction,” shares Dan.

  1. Revolutionizing  the food delivery space

foodpanda was the first online delivery service in the Philippines to house all of your favorite restaurants in an app and deliver food right at your doorstep with just a few taps on your mobile phone. Before foodpanda, do you remember how you would collect delivery hotline numbers, so you know who to call when ordering food? Or how frustrating it is that some of your faves are not available for delivery? Now, Ka-Panda riders not only deliver the meals you’re craving, but so much more – you can shop for groceries from pandamart, pick-up your ordered food if you’re in the area, or enjoy exclusive discounts for dine-in offers from their restaurant partners.

  1. Putting the digital in digital delivery

It’s called quick commerce for a reason because in as fast as 30 minutes or even less, your order is already at your door. The reason behind this fast delivery service, aside from having a massive fleet of riders, bikers, scooter-riders and even walkers, is that foodpanda pioneered the use of internet connection to their vendors. Prior to that, other online food delivery services had to manually use fax and call center agents to relay the orders to the restaurants, so imagine how long it would take. As the first one to automate the ordering process, they definitely transformed the way online food deliveries work so your food will be delivered still hot and fresh – just the way you like it.

  1. Shining the spotlight on “dark” kitchens…

The term ‘dark kitchen’ might sound a bit scary, but a delivery-only restaurant is all there really is to it. It means these food brands do not have physical stores; just take-out outlets designed to deliver only. For foodies who are tired of eating from the same restaurants, you might want to try foodpanda’s concept brands for your next meal. They are present in key cities in Metro Manila and the North Luzon area. (Extra fun fact: some of these brands are created by foodpanda so you can only get it exclusively from their platform).

  1. You can never go wrong with pizza and burger!

Any time is pizza and burger o’clock. It’s probably why these two fast-food staples hold a special place in foopanda’s 8-year journey in the country. The very first order to be placed in the app is none other than everyone’s OG snack, pizza, while topping the order list in the app are burgers.  As the leader in the online food delivery marketplace, foodpanda continues to offer food items that will meet the fast-paced lifestyle and current needs of their consumers.

  1. Employee #1 is still with them

Kristine Luneta, who is part of the Commercial team, currently holds the title of foodpanda’s longest-tenured employee. Like the company, she is also celebrating her 8th year anniversary with them as their employee #1. When asked what made her stay for that long, Kristine shared, “I am drawn to how progressive the mindset is and how connected the people are.”

  1. FP = For the People

Making a difference in the community is also part of the company’s advocacies. One of the many initiatives they do to nurture and help the communities they serve is the ‘BuyAnihan Palengke’ program, aimed at assisting enterprising Filipinos become resellers of fresh produce sourced directly from local farmers. To date, more than 10,000 kilograms of fresh produce have been sold to consumers at an affordable price through various partnerships with local government units since the program was launched last year. Watch out for their next food bazaar exhibit to get your stash of fresh fruits and vegetables.

For 8 years, foodpanda has been a prominent presence in the digital food space in the Philippines – and they vow to continue deliver food, groceries, and more for many years to come. Celebrate with foodpanda’s Pau-tastic birthday: be on the lookout for surprises and announcements for special treats made just for you!

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Hamilo Coast: Nurturing nature for 15 years and beyond

June 27, 2022 1:35 p.m.

The current rate at which individuals observe sustainability practices is far from halting climate change.

Whether it is reducing the use of disposable items or saving more energy, environmentally conscious activities will only yield significant results if everyone is “cast in the same mold,” so to speak.

That said, high-impact global sustainable development lies within the responsibility of the government and large organizations—conglomerates among them.

Understanding such a role, SM Prime Holdings, Inc., one of the largest integrated property developers in Southeast Asia, has incorporated its sustainable practices in its developments early on. 

Through SM Prime’s Costa Del Hamilo Inc., a leader in the leisure resort industry and the movers behind Hamilo Coast – this premium seaside complex in Nasugbu, Batangas, fosters a tangible connection with nature.

Marking its quindecennial year, Hamilo Coast looks back at its milestones and achievements with its core emphasis on sustainable development. 

“Sustainability has been at the forefront of our vision in providing a resort lifestyle. We strive to practice both environmental and social sustainability in our operations through our partners and commnunities,” Franklin M. Bolalin, Assistant Vice President for Hamilo Estate Management, said. 

Disaster risk reduction

Every year, the country deals with an average of 19 typhoons, with some often resulting  in damages to properties and loss of life. 

Coastal defenses such as seawalls and breakwater structures are often implemented to resist storm surges. In the case of Hamilo Coast, mangrove trees are the key.

Hamilo Coast’s 100,000 square-meter or equivalent to 10 hectares mangrove belt is one of the largest mangrove areas in the municipality.

The sustainable beach resort town has since planted 50,000 mangrove propagules, protected hand-in-hand with the conservation organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines.

Biodiversity conservation

Apart from disaster mitigation, mangrove trees also benefit the climate by absorbing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and carbon dioxide.

This capacity nurtures the ecosystem and biodiversity in the area, providing habitat for a wide array of species.  

Hamilo is home to rich marine life and abundant flora and fauna. 

Its conservation programs and various sustainability initiatives have nurtured and conserved its precious biodiversity. 

There are about 96 various bird species found at the estate. Among these bird species are the rough-crested Malkoha and the Philippine eagle-owl.

From growing local plants to conducting regular coastal clean-up drives, coastal resource conservation initiatives are active in Hamilo Coast. With the help of WWF, they can increase their fisheries’ biological capacity and monitor their Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)—the Pico de Loro, Etayo and Santelmo coves which are among the three MPAs for Costa Del Hamilo’s Sustainable Development Project. 

Hamilo has been working with WWF since 2007 monitoring the health and viability of Hamilo Coast area. 

In recognition of its conservation efforts, Hamilo Coast was cited by the World Wide Fund for Nature as its longest Sustainability Partner in 2020.

“Over the years, our partnership with SM significantly contributed to the impact we are making in our work in Hamilo Coast. From liquid waste and coral monitoring, to our present work on integrated waste management and food sheds, we hope that this continuing partnership would help us realize our vision of making Hamilo a holistic model of sustainability”, says Katherine Custodio, WWF-Philippines’ Executive Director.

Green buildings development

The path towards a sustainable future is paved with many interventions, including zero waste, dematerialization, zero emissions and resource efficiency practices.

For its part, Hamilo Coast makes its intention to be a premiere sustainability community possible by making sure its buildings are designed with the environment in mind.

Some of the estate’s facilities are powered by alternative sources of energy. For example, its lamp posts use solar power more than traditional ones to function.

Natural lighting and ventilation are also noticeable in some of its residential areas, which benefits the environment as well as its tenants. Additionally, Hamilo Coast implements a solid waste management plan that consists of recovery of materials and vermicomposting, among others.

Sustainable living

At Hamilo Coast’s core is how a distinct beachfront home can harmonize with its surrounding environment.

As people crave for a more relaxed environment, closer to nature and the outdoors amid a work-from-home setup pushed by the ongoing pandemic, Hamilo homes give access to invigorating landscapes, coves to explore and the calming sea. 

Fifteen years later, Hamilo Coast has surpassed its reputation as a weekend respite.

It is now one of the best settlement options for people looking to live the coastal life in a sustainable community. 

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