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YouTube moderators must sign form acknowledging job can give them PTSD, report says

Thousands of workers are contracted by YouTube and Google around the world for content moderation.

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Content moderation is difficult work. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Thousands of contract workers around the world are responsible for blocking objectionable content on YouTube if the massive video site's automated filters don't catch it first. It's grueling work, and some contract moderators are reportedly being ordered to sign a document acknowledging the job can cause post-traumatic stress disorder

Accenture, which runs a moderation operation for Google-owned YouTube in Texas, distributed the document to workers on Dec. 20, according to a report Friday from The Verge. The two-page form says workers might review "disturbing" videos and that moderating "such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)," according to The Verge. The PTSD statement is reportedly highlighted at the end of the form. 

The form was an Accenture document and not distributed at the video site's direction, according to YouTube. 

"Moderators do vital and necessary work to keep digital platforms safer for everyone," said a YouTube spokesperson in an emailed statement Friday. "We choose the companies we partner with carefully and require them to provide comprehensive resources to support moderators' wellbeing and mental health." 

Accenture said Friday that new hires are always asked to review and sign these types of documents, which seek to foster environments where workers can let the company know if they need additional help, support or accommodations. 

"The wellbeing of our people is a top priority," the company said in an emailed statement. "We regularly update the information we give our people to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the work they do -- and of the industry-leading wellness program and comprehensive support services we provide."

Accenture said the document was also reissued to existing workers, but that there was no consequence for not signing the updated document.  

Last year, Google said it'll require temp companies that supply the search giant with temporary and contract workers to provide its staff with full benefits, starting in 2020. The change was announced the same day that more than 900 Google workers reportedly signed a letter demanding better treatment of Google's extended workforce, commonly known at the company as TVCs (temps, vendors and contractors). 

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Originally published Jan. 24, 9:54 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:01 p.m.: Adds comment from Accenture.