THE WEDNESDAY MAY 9 SCREENING IS PART OF THE JUSTICE FORUM SERIES AND WILL INCLUDE A POST-FILM DISCUSSION.
When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dormitory at Harvard in 2004, he meant the platform to be used as a tool to “share anything with anyone.” Little did he know just how far and fast the concept would spread. Social media has become an integral part of how we live our daily lives. From hot takes on the latest news item to images of what we ate for breakfast—we share, and we do it often. But where are the limits drawn as to what, exactly, can be shared? The Cleaners reveals the dark underbelly of our globalized social media culture and the people who are charged with determining what is unacceptable. Content moderators are hired by third-party companies to determine what stays up and what comes down. As social media has increasingly taken on the role of more traditional media outlets in disseminating information and holding institutions accountable, companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook are being taken to task for their choices to censor or to allow certain kinds of online content to flourish. The individuals on the frontlines of this conversation are paid to make these decisions, in front of computer screens in anonymous offices in Manila. While companies freely outsource the ethics of their platforms, the psychological labour performed has very real consequences on the moderators’ lives. Furthermore, each choice to delete or ignore a red flag can have far-reaching global effects, resulting in increasingly urgent conversations around free speech and the role of technology in our societies.-PP