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Invisible risks: Combating secondary trauma to safeguard children

Investigating the impact of online child sexual abuse material on content moderators

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  • Objective

We have been awarded funding from the End Violence Fund to investigate the impact of online child sexual abuse material on content moderators – individuals who are charged with constantly surveilling and removing traumatic images and videos of child sexual abuse. We will explore and quantify the issues facing content moderators and identify coping strategies currently used by content moderators and highlight what works – and does not work. Results of the study will be used to develop a pilot intervention to support and protect the mental health of content moderators.

  • Blogs

BLOG: What effects does the job have on content moderators?


Qualitative findings re: Impacts on content moderators

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BLOG: What helps content moderators cope with the job?


Qualitative findings re: Coping

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BLOG: Why Daniel Motaung’s lawsuit could be good news for us all


Daniel Motaung’s case may make Facebook liable for the mental health of its outsourced content moderators, opening the doors for other lawsuits. This is something that we should all support.

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  • About the Project

The study is led by Dr Jeffrey DeMarco and Dr Elena Martellozzo.

Online child sexual abuse material is highly damaging to children, yet little primary research exists in relation to its impact on content moderators. Their job involves the removal of online child sexual abuse material as well as other disturbing content, and this constant surveillance of traumatic images can affect their wellbeing, mental health and quality of life, as well as their work competence, satisfaction and productivity. Strategies are needed to help them cope with such work.

Our project uses an interative approach and mixed methodology to identify the impacts of the job on content moderators, as well as individual coping strategies and organisational sources of stress and support in order to develop and pilot an intervention designed specifically for them. The intervention toolkit will focus on tackling identified concerns and strengthening areas of resilience.

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