Microsoft is being sued by two of its former employers for having failed to protect them against the psychological effects of viewing disturbing material.
The lawsuit alleges that the two men were left with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after having worked with the tech giant.
The works they did involve viewing and reporting material that the automated software had flagged them as potentially illegal. The reporting was done through Microsoft services.
While responding to the claims, Microsoft said that the accusations are unfounded and that it has industry-leading support, reports 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,” said the company.
The company said that it was continually learning on how to protect the internet and keep its employers safe at the same time.
Keep our children safe
Henry Soto and Greg Blauert worked for Microsoft’s Online Safety Team. This is a division tasked with ensuring the firm meets legal obligation of passing illegal messages to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Once the automated software captures an issue, a human being ahs to go through the material, explains Microsoft spokeswoman.
She went on to state that people doing this job do it for a limited period of time. They are also separated from the rest of the staff.
But in papers filed on 30 December 2016, the two men said the company did little to warn or prepare them for the disturbing images they were required to view, reports BBC.
According to the lawsuit, the two men helped greatly in saving the lives of children. However, they all underwent traumatic mental effects.
One of them, Mr Blauert, is said to have suffered from mental breakdown in 2013. When he raised issues regarding his troubles, he was advised to go for a walk, smoke or play a video game as a distraction.
Exposed to most inhumane views
The papers read that Mr Soto came across “many thousands of photographs and videos of the most horrible, inhumane and disgusting content one can imagine.”
While being internally reviewed, his bosses praised him for his courage. But the work he did led to him being subjected to “panic attacks, disassociation, depression, visual hallucinations.” He also finds it hard to surround himself with the young children, including his son.
Every time he does that, he is reminded of the horrible and violent acts against children.
And even when he asked for a transfer, he was denied and was asked to apply for the job “just like any other employee.” And even after being moved after some time, he would still be asked questions related to his prior job.
But Microsoft has denied this saying that “If an employee no longer wishes to do this work, he or she will be assigned other responsibilities.”
Microsoft says that it will oppose the lawsuit though it’s yet to make a response to the court.