Film tip – the cleaners – the abyss of the internet

Film tip - the cleaners - the abyss of the internet

The film "The Cleaners" shows shocking pictures from the abysses of the Internet: torture videos, pictures of ill-treatment and abused children – and those who are supposed to clean it up. A film you have to see.

Every minute, 500 hours of video material are uploaded to YouTube, 450,000 tweets are published on Twitter and 2.5 million posts are posted on Facebook. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have to make sure that there are no suicide live streams, calls for violence or ill-treatment.

To do this, they rely on "The Cleaners" – young workers in the Philippines who delete or run up to 25,000 contributions a day for starvation wages. You have to watch videos of the atrocities as "content moderators" and decide on censorship or non-censorship within seconds.

The Cleaners: Cinema film about the dark side of the Internet

The Cleaners: Film about the content moderators in Manila. (Photo: Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion)

Most content moderators in the world are based in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. You decide which posts on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Co. are allowed to stay and which are not. Torture and ill-treatment have no place there, but what about critical caricature, art or satire? "Don’t think too much" is one of the first rules that a content moderator learns. They are among the poorest of the poor. You have the choice: sort the garbage on the street or the garbage on the Internet.

In the film, content moderators talk in detail about the abysses of their work, many are traumatized. You feel like you are doing something good and cleaning up the internet of all bad things. The film reveals the psychological pressure on workers. Many have symptoms similar to soldiers who come home from war. The difference is that the content moderators are not allowed to talk to anyone about their secret work.

Conclusion: The Cleaners – a terrifying documentary

The film The Cleaners is terrifying in two ways:

  • On the one hand, it gives insights into the secret world of the Internet, where low-wage workers do the dirty work and clean the Internet.
  • On the other hand, the documentary makes it clear how commercial companies outsource responsibility to Manila. There, freedom of expression and censorship are decided, at a time when a tweet can trigger a war.

A look at Myanmar shows how big the influence of social networks is. There the hatred of the Rohingya was first fueled on Facebook, then the people were violently driven out. The United Nations accuses Facebook, .

The documentary is definitely worth seeing! In 2018 it was released in cinemas and is now available on DVD and as a stream **:

  • Book7 ()
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