Dieter Wieczorek
Wieczorek is a film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

The «cleaners» of global social media platforms live in harsh societies and conditions of comparative clutter to those after whom they are cleaning up.

The Cleaners

Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck

Germany, Brazil, Netherlands

At the 2018 Rotterdam Film Festival, Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck presented their new documentary The Cleaners. It begins with a dry and overused list of statistics: Three billion people are connected worldwide through social media websites. Every minute, 500 hours worth of video footage is uploaded on YouTube alone. In that time, some 450,000 Tweets are posted on Twitter and 2.5 million Facebook posts are also published. The Facebook community is estimated to include at least 2 billion members – nearly a quarter of the world. Its influence in opinion formation is larger than that of any nation state.

Recruited from the streets

The Cleaners travels from the high-tech, pristine work quarters of the company’s engineers and their day-to-day conditions, to derelict homes in Manila, where so-called content moderators or Facebook’s «cleaners» live. Nearly all of them are recruited from the street, without any educational background in politics, sociology or psychology, not to mention knowledge about art theory and expression. They are hired merely to «delete». Officially, Facebook is not allowed to employ content control staff in the Philippines. However, local outsourcing transmitter companies render it possible. They are the bodies that deliver Facebook’s paycheques.

The filmmakers are given intimate access into the lives of these «cleaners», following them to their homes, to their leisure activities, church, discos and game halls.

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