Microsoft staff were forced to view footage of abuse
Microsoft staff were forced to view footage of children being raped and murdered, according to a lawsuit filed against Bill Gates. A new lawsuit is being filed against Microsoft founder Bill Gates after it emerged that Microsoft staff were forced to view photos and videos of sexual assaults, brutality, rape, and murder of children.
It emerged that the staff suffered from severe post-traumatic stress following seeing the content. Two former Microsoft employees and their families filed the complaint citing the content as “inhumane and disgusting content”, they also complained of a huge psychological impact has caused the moderators to “breakdown” when using a computer.
Ben Wells, the attorney who filed the suit in Washington state said: “It’s bad enough just to see a child get sexually molested.
Then there are murders.
Unspeakable things are done to these children.” The Guardian reports: If the suit prevails, it could have ramifications for corporations across the industry, and Wells said he hopes the case inspires others to speak out about poor working conditions.
A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement that the company “disagrees” with the claims in the suit and “takes seriously its responsibility to remove and report imagery of child sexual exploitation and abuse being shared on its services, as well as the health and resiliency of the employees who do this important work”.
Plaintiffs Henry Soto and Greg Blauert both worked on the online safety team, which is responsible for complying with legislation passed in 2008 requiring tech companies to report child abuse images and other crimes.
Microsoft did not warn the workers about the dangers of this line of work and the potential for “debilitating injuries”, according to the suit, which was filed in December and was publicly reported this week. When Soto was “involuntarily transferred” to the unit in 2008, he had “God-like” status, which meant he could view any customer’s communications, the suit said.
His job involved assisting law enforcement in breaking up “crime rings” and “violent groups” and required him to view “many thousands of photographs and videos” of violence and brutality.
“Many people simply cannot imagine what Mr Soto had to view on a daily basis as most people do not understand how horrible and inhumane the worst people in the world can be,” his lawyers wrote. Blauert, who was hired as a full-time employee in 2012, was also required to “review thousands of images of child pornography, adult pornography and bestiality that graphically depicted the violence and depravity of the perpetrators.”
Although Microsoft created a “wellness program” and offered a counselor, the services were insufficient and ineffective and the company failed to help the workers understand the “vicarious trauma” and PTSD they were suffering, according to the suit. Program authorities advised the workers to take walks and smoke breaks and suggested Blauert play video games to manage his symptoms, the complaint said. Later, however, his supervisors allegedly gave him a poor evaluation for “lack of production and too much time playing video games”.
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