The Worst Job At Google: One Year Of Watching Terrible Internet Things

People put terrible things on the internet — very terrible things. And it's someone's job to make sure that regular people don't run into them. But that is a terrifying job, and it understandably scars a lot of people who do it. Buzzfeed talked to one former employee who told this story.

The ex-employee, who is not named, explains that the job involves spending hours and hours and hours looking at horrible content, like beheadings, child pornography (up to 15,000 images a day), gore and extreme fetishes. That would be tough for anyone. It was enough to deeply affect this particular employee:

Google got someone from a federal agency to talk to me, and that's when it occurred to me that I needed therapy. She showed me photos of seemingly innocuous activities (kind of like a modified Rorschach test) and asked me for my first visceral reaction. I was like, "That's fucked up!" It was just a father and a child.

Since the employees doing this job are contractors, they can only stay for a year. Otherwise, they have to be brought on full time, and Google did not seem to want that. So it let him or her go, as it apparently does for most in that job. Maybe that's for the best, since more than a year — more than a day — in that job seems hugely unhealthy. But the lack of a support system does seem especially cold.

For the rest of the details, you should definitely read the full first-hand account over at Buzzfeed. [Buzzfeed]

Image: Jim Cooke at Gawker; original image from Richard Laschon/Shutterstock


Comments

    First comment on linked article is apt...
    "this guy is like internet Batman."

    Oh man you'd think they'd at least offer some proper counseling, not just one session :/
    Doing it for a year would really warp you. "Cannot unsee" would never be a truer statement o.0

      Indeed. I've seen a couple of things in my life I cannot unsee. Some of them on the net, some in real life. I cannot imagine what a years worth of crap shoved through your eyeballs would be like...

    They should just hire people from 4chan.

      yeah, not a good idea. They'd be bringing in their portable hdds and filling them up.

    Poor guy. There was a programme on SBS about Amsterdam police raiding pedophile abodes and seizing huge amounts of tapes. Then some unfortunate investigator had to sit and watch through all of them to see identifying information of the perpetrators in order to find the origins and such. What a screwed up job.

    Ok I know its not the best job but couldn't Google write an algorithm to detect when an adult figure is on screen and then index that location and get the investigator to only go to that part and spare them some of the soul crushing exposure this job would have.

    They can do this with checking for elicit content on videos uploaded to youtube already surely they might be able to adapt it for this cause. Better to have a few programmers work on it than a person watching hours and hours of this material.

    Wanna convince us the switch isn't on evil, do it Google.

      Actually, an algorithm could be written to watch how a human categorises images, for say, a year. From that point on, the code could make (contextually) the same decisions, but without a human being involved.
      A learning algorithm is completely possible (and is actually part of how Googles search engine already works), and would eventually rule out the human interaction requirement for categorising such things.

    obviously this guy hasnt been doing his job. The illness I've seen on the net, just innocently browsing, would destroy souls.

    How do you know that the agency that hired the person to Google didn't assure Google that ALL their employees receive careful debriefing and, where necessary, counselling and ongoing support? Don't simply point a finger and blame Google.

      If you read the linked article it stipulates that Google only "covered one session with a government-appointed therapist — and encouraged [him] to go out and get [his] own therapy after [he] left."

    These poor people are the unsung heroes of the internet.

    I hope for their sake the remuneration is appropriate.

    I once got offered a job editing porn videos full time, just vanilla in'n'out kinda stuff. I couldn't even stomach the idea of that. I like boobs as much as the next guy, buy that kind of exposure would ruin anyone.

      There was an article I read once about an editor in hollywood who took on porn jobs to pay his bills, he found it difficult to get consistent feature movie work but apparently porn movie work was amazingly regular *big surprise*... he said that after six months, he had no interest in sex at all. After a year, it revolted him. He knew he had to leave the industry because constant exposure, constant submersion in it day after day had ruined something he once valued with his wife. Nothing deep there, just an interesting story I thought...

    Google should hire some Apple Genius's to do that job.

    Well someone has to do it. And personally I can think of a lot worse contract work than sitting on your ass and looking at shock sites all day. The snide comment about a 'poor support structure' is completely baseless since this is par-for-the-course in this field and employment structure.

    Sadly this sounds like a job I would happily get off the dole for.

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