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As everyone is well aware, data is what drives the majority of businesses. It has been called everything from the new gold standard, to the Holy Grail, and more—representing the way that companies now reach and connect with their potential targets. And, most likely, we all use data daily in our own respective companies to meet any number of business goals. But have you ever contemplated the dark side of data?

As a global society we all continue to be connected 24/7, resulting in a small world that we now all share. And with that small world comes the up-close-and-personal aspects of not-so-savoury characters who use the internet for sometimes horrible things.

Imagine the city that you live in: there are the good neighbourhoods and the bad neighbourhoods. Most likely you try to avoid the bad ones and all that they represent including the crime, violence, and so on. So if the internet has in fact created a global village, the bad neighbourhoods are in essence right outside the door. And like any citizen of a city, you expect the police and authorities to keep danger at bay.

So, who are the police that keep the virtual danger at bay? Welcome to the world of social media moderators.

It goes without saying that we’ve all seen some weird stuff on social media. From skewed political rhetoric, to links that show sometimes disturbing or violent footage. It’s all out there for everyone to see—or is it? The moderators that work at media giants such as Facebook, for instance, truly see the most terrible of things as they decide what can and cannot be posted for all to see. And, in all honesty, as jobs go they are the unsung heroes of the internet.

Imagine for a moment a day in the life of a social media moderator—the 1,000+ people who must view the worst of the worst in content to keep it away from the eyes of the general public. It is not uncommon for these people to see the most horrible things. From videos of adult content (many times non-consensual), to hate speech and violence, to threats, and even murder. These are the things—the data that is being uploaded—that these folks deal with everyday to protect us from the most horrible of the human condition.

Imagine the toll that those images and messages take on a human being. Not unlike those who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from witnessing horrible acts from events in war-torn areas, civil unrest, accidents, and more—the people who guard the gates of ubiquitous platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc., suffer the very same outcomes.

The most disturbing part is that it’s their daily job. There is no downtime, no reprieve—just long shifts of seeing horrible images and content over and over again.

So, why an article on this topic? Personally, I feel that the world, along with becoming a global village, has become far too complacent and myopic at times as it pertains to social media. Our global society assumes that it’s more of a right than a privilege to use such platforms and that they are somehow self-governing.

However, as echo chambers become larger for the public, it’s important to understand the reflections of our collective actions. What the world sees is a reflection on the world we want to be, not necessarily the world we are. And as we all strive to be better human beings, know that there are people making sacrifices in the digital age to keep us all safer and pointed in a far more civilized direction.