This morning, the tech news site The Information reported that Facebook would soon pay its staff a $1,000 bonus to help its employees working from home under emergency conditions induced by the novel coronavirus. But the generous move comes with a catch: Facebook, which as of last December held over $50 billion in cash, will provide no such payout for the tens of thousands of contract workers who keep the company’s apps and sites running.
“For contract workers, we are sending them home and paying them in full even if they are unable to work — which as you can imagine is much more meaningful than a one off payment.”
“The $1k is for full time employees who are working from home,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Intercept. “For contract workers, we are sending them home and paying them in full even if they are unable to work — which as you can imagine is much more meaningful than a one off payment.”
When asked how Facebook — which earned over $20 billion in revenue last quarter — determined that a one-off payment of $1,000 would be less meaningful to its contract workers than its full-time staff, the spokesperson sent the same statement again.
Facebook announced that it would “be working with our partners over the course of this week to send all contract workers who perform content review home, until further notice.”
Contractors at the tech giant have recently complained of contradictory, confusing safety guidance surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, with disparities between what Facebook is telling employees working on contracts and what the corporations employing the contractors are saying.
Many of Facebook’s hourly staff, contracted around the world through firms like Accenture to review sexually disturbing and graphically violent content — among other tasks — work second or third jobs to make ends meet.
“Facebook loves to remind us that we only work in their buildings and on their platforms and not for them,” said one Accenture worker contracted to Facebook, who asked that their name not be used for fear of losing their job.
Another added, “We have never been, nor will we ever be worthy of dignity and respect in their eyes.” I asked the worker if a $1,000 payment would be “meaningful,” as the Facebook spokesperson had put it. “That’s almost two months of rent for me,” the contractor said. “Would help ease the cost of not having hot food and snacks at work five days a week also.”