Mar 18, 2020 - Technology

Facebook will indefinitely pay contractors it has sent home

A user looks at a screen displaying the Facebook logo.

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Facebook will pay its contract workers indefinitely, even if they aren't able to carry on their normal duties, as it directs most of its labor force to work from home to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

What they're saying: "I don't think we see an end to that," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters Wednesday on giving full pay to its contracted content moderators whose work can't be done remotely.

  • "Hopefully at some point, when the public health response is sufficient, people can resume working in the office," Zuckerberg added. "But we don't view this as a time-bounded thing."

Yes, but: Facebook relies heavily on contract workers for content moderation.

  • Some of the work that Facebook doesn't want contractors handling remotely, particularly in sensitive areas like suicidal ideations and child exploitation, will be shifted to full-time employees, Zuckerberg said.
  • The company will also rely more heavily on artificial intelligence to detect problematic content.
  • Still, he acknowledged that Facebook expects productivity to take a hit while its offices are largely empty. He noted Facebook workers are not only telecommuting, but also may be dealing with kids at home because of school closures.

Separately, Zuckerberg said Facebook is working on a new coronavirus information center that will push reliable information to the top of users' Facebook feeds.

  • The feature will launch in the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the U.K. as soon as tomorrow, with the aim of eventually making it global.
  • The company is also making its Facebook-for-work tools, such as Workplace, free to governments and emergency services for the next 12 months.
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