MSNBC Exclusive Rights and Facebook Content Moderators

Grind for June 24th
“What’s fascinating is, people in Washington would rather spend more time in Hollywood, and people in Hollywood would rather spend time in Washington.”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Political News

The Headline

Dems give MSNCB exclusive rights to convention coverage

The Grind

The South Carolina Democratic Party (SCDP) has decided to give liberal network MSNBC exclusive rights to air live coverage of the state’s 2019 Democratic convention.

The event will feature 21 of the party’s 24 presidential hopefuls, including high-profile candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.

Other networks are permitted to bring cameras to the event, but are prohibited from broadcasting until three hours after the convention ends.

The embargo includes live-streaming through social media.

The Details

Other networks aren’t happy about the decision.

“This leaves a bad taste in our mouths,” says Steve Scully, a political editor at C-SPAN. “Our disappointment is that we intended to cover this, we had laid the groundwork and started to promote it. It’s disappointing all the way around. We hope this isn’t an ongoing pattern.”

MSNBC might decide to skip over remarks from lesser-known candidates, added Scully. “They’re shooting themselves in the foot.”

In addition, the embargo is likely to affect future coverage of Democratic events in South Carolina.

“We will not be coming, absolutely not…I also told them in no uncertain terms you better think long and hard before you reach out to us to cover something else,” continued Scully. “We will deal with 49 other state Democratic Parties. It’s ridiculous. It’s an open event.”
Conservative strategist Chris Barron mocked the embargo, suggesting it was intended to cover up Democratic candidates’ radical comments: “Frankly, if I were the Democratic Party, I would want to limit access to the convention, too. Nothing will turn off critical swing voters like a look at the radicals firmly in charge of the Democratic Party.”

The Takeaway

This is an unprecedented effort to control the narrative of a key political event. Since when does a political party pick and choose which organizations are allowed to cover their events?

Maybe Barron is right, and the Dems want the ability to keep radical comments out of the news; or maybe Scully is right, and the network will intentionally cut out candidates the DNC doesn’t like.

Either way, the decision is not in line with Democrats’ longstanding cooperation with the media and is sure to cause fights with other networks (not to mention MSNBC doesn’t have the biggest audience).

Medical News

The Headline

Report: Facebook’s content moderators suffer hellish conditions

The Grind

Content moderators working for Facebook review up to 200 flagged posts each day. These posts are singled out for content including hate speech, conspiracy theories, animal abuse, child pornography, graphic violence, murder, and sexual abuse.

A high percentage of moderators quit during the first year; many walk away with depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.

The Details

According to an investigation by The Verge’s Casey Newton, one moderator working in Tampa, FL suffered a heart attack at his desk and died in a hospital. The facility did not provide on-site defibrillators.

Other moderators at the Tampa facility described a filthy environment in which they regulatory found human waste at workstations. Loud altercations and fights break out monthly, often over workplace romances.

Incidents reported to HR are generally ignored or retaliated against.

Employees often work through violent illnesses in fear they will be fired for taking a single day off. Marijuana use is common.

“I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve smoked with,” said a former employee. “It’s so sad when I think back about it – it really does hurt my heart. We’d go down and get stoned and go back to work. That’s not professional.”

Ultimately, Newton concludes that Facebook and other big tech companies treat their moderators poorly because they believe AI will soon take over their jobs. Human moderators are “viewed as a speed bump on the way to an AI-powered future,” writes Newton.

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