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A Visit to Facebook's Recently Opened Center for Deleting Content

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Our tour of one of Germany's new content moderation centers gave us a look at Facebook's content moderation—and what it means for the people who have to enforce its deletion rules.

A version of this article originally appeared on Motherboard Germany.

For the first time, Facebook granted journalists access to its new center in Essen, Germany for deleting content from its platform. In the five-story building, more than 400 employees are already deleting comments, photos, and videos that break Facebook's rules.

During this process, employees sometimes have to review disturbing videos and photos. A large portion of the visible content is either hate speech, spam, or content created by fake accounts, a Facebook spokesperson told me. These employees are essentially taking the trash out created by Facebook's 2 billion monthly active users from across the globe. The content that isn't allowed on Facebook—according to the platform's own rules—needs to be reviewed and deleted by the content moderators. This important work is complex and exhausting.

The first employees in Essen started working there October. At the end of 2017, a total of 500 employees were working in the office building located in an industrial park a few minutes walk from the Essen town center. The center is now the second facility of its kind in Germany, with the other located in West Berlin.

What it looks like from the inside

As part of the visit, Facebook provided a glimpse into one of the employee work spaces. According to the company employees, this workspace is representative of all others within the building. The "Floor," as the employees there call these workspaces, isn't much different from standard open-plan offices. The areas the journalists were allowed to photograph show roughly two dozen employees sitting at their workstations—each with one computer screen.

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