Facebook Spanish Language Moderators Say They’re Treated Worse Than English Counterparts

At the Richardson, Texas, office of Genpact, a Meta subcontractor, Spanish-language moderators told BuzzFeed News they’ve been required to report to the office since April 2021, despite the emergence of both Delta and Omicron variants that caused COVID infections to spike across the US. According to them, moderators responsible for English-language content review have been permitted to cycle through the office three-monthly.

“Being in the office … has been nothing short of a nightmare,” one moderator said.

BuzzFeed News spoke to three members of Genpact’s so-called Mexican market team who described a pattern of inequitable treatment of Spanish-language moderators. They spoke anonymously because Genpact requires them all to sign confidentiality agreements. This made them fear for their jobs. They stated that they had to report to the office for nine months, while their English-language counterparts could work at home. Spanish-language moderators have to meet unrealistic performance standards and are not paid for working in two languages. They also have to manage a Facebook market, which has been long criticized for being too moderated amid active COVID cases.

Genpact spokesperson Danielle D’Angelo declined to comment on all of the specific claims made by Spanish-language moderators, including the claim that its Mexican market team was not allowed to work from home while other teams were rotated out.

“We would like to stress that employee safety is our top priority and that has and will remain so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” D’Angelo said. “Any return to office decisions that are made in alignment with client needs are done with best safety and health practices in place and in accordance with local regulations. In all of our workplace locations, including our Richardson, TX office, we follow best-in-class safety standards, which includes frequent antigen testing.”

On Thursday, managers at Genpact’s Richardson site reportedly told company agents that it has scrapped plans to reopen at 50% capacity on Jan. 31 due to the Omicron variant. Spanish-language moderators claimed that this change doesn’t affect them and they will continue reporting directly to the office. Genpact declined comment to say when and in what capacity it plans to reopen.

Genpact leadership sent a late June email to one English-language moderation group that was allowed to rotate out of office. They thanked them for their “continued dedication to the organization” and “responsiveness.” They stated that they would be returning to work from home on July 26, according to the email.

BuzzFeed News reported that Spanish-language moderators claimed they did not receive such an email. Days after English-language moderators were told they could go back home, “[managers] told us we were a specialized queue, and that our job could not be done outside of the office,” one moderator said, noting that the Mexican market often involves moderating a deluge of particularly graphic content. Facebook declined to comment on the complaints of its Spanish-language moderators, referring BuzzFeed News to Genpact — a strategy it has taken time and again when addressing the concerns of people who make their living moderating Facebook content.

Workers have been more afraid for their safety since they returned to Richardson. BuzzFeed News was told by moderators that 30 cases of COVID were reported to management in December. No updates have been made since. Workers claim that their coworkers continue to test positive for COVID. They cited two cases last week on one floor. Genpact declined any comment regarding the number or frequency of COVID-related cases in its office.

After learning that their Spanish-language colleague might have spread the virus to them, a dozen Spanish-language moderators departed the office in large numbers on Dec. 22. Genpact currently does not offer paid sick leave to its moderators, so workers used PTO for self-isolation. Genpact declined any comment regarding whether its moderators receive paid sick leaves.

This team is named after the Mexican market but they also review Instagram and Facebook content in Spanish from most Latin American users, moderators stated. In Mexico, there were 84million Facebook users and WhatsApp was used by tens of millions. In Latino and Spanish-speaking communities, Facebook has been a powerful vector of misinformation, shaping the public’s perception of topics such as COVID, election politics, and Black Lives Matter. However, researchers who study misinformation reported to the Guardian that Spanish-language posts of harmful content are more frequently removed than English-language posts.