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Microsoft staffers who had the firm’s worst job are suing over PTSD

Microsoft is facing legal action from two former members of its Online Safety Team who were left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from viewing disturbing, illegal material online.

Moderators Henry Soto and Greg Blauert’s jobs required them to watch material that had been flagged as potentially illegal by automated services, including “unspeakable” images and videos of child abuse, sexual assault and murder.

Lawyers say both men are paying a physiological price for their work, which the lawsuit claims may have saved the lives of children and led to prosecutions.

Soto, who joined the unit in 2008, was exposed to ”many thousands of photographs and videos of the most horrible, inhumane and disgusting content one can imagine,” according to the suit filed On December 30.

“Many people simply cannot imagine what Mr Soto had to view on a daily basis as most people do not understand how horrible and inhumane the worst people in the world can be.”
 
Mr Blaubert suffered a mental breakdown in 2013 as a result of the work, while he was allegedly told to take more smoke breaks or play video games in order to distract him from the harrowing work.

Microsoft has expressed its disagreement with the suit, telling the BBC: “Microsoft takes seriously its responsibility to remove and report imagery of child sexual exploitation and abuse being shared on its services, as well as the health and resiliency of the employees who do this important work.”

Redmond says those employees go to mandated one-on-one counseling sessions and can transfer out of the role when it gets too much.

“If an employee no longer wishes to do this work, he or she will be assigned other responsibilities.”

Microsoft is yet to respond to the court regarding the filing.

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