Mind over Moderation

This podcast highlights the precarious conditions of content moderators, as well as the structural constraints faced by migrant workers in Germany. It is also a call to action in the fight for lasting changes in this industry.

By Doe & Joe

Trigger Warning

We have tried to avoid explicit depictions of violence so that the podcast remains accessible to everyone. Still, a few comments and depictions can be triggering and we advise listeners’ discretion.

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The present podcast was developed and recorded by us, two anonymous data workers based in Germany. We are content moderators for a large social media platform working through an outsourcing company in Berlin, where we don’t have any prospects of raises in pay or better working conditions. As immigrants, our bachelor’s degrees are not accredited, and our residence permits in Germany are tied to the work contracts. This forces us into precarious forms of occupation and makes us ‘prisoners’ of our circumstances. We are not even allowed to access all the personalized data our employer collects about our performance.

Accordingly, the goal of this podcast is twofold. On the one hand, we want to give social media users an overview of how their data (such as posts and messages) are processed and repurposed for the profit of platform owners. For this, we describe a typical day in our occupation, delineating how we are silenced by social and company-enforced taboos, constantly pressured by key performance indicators, and harmed by the actual content of our tasks. On the other hand, we want to encourage other workers to step forward and share their experiences publicly.

We believe that highlighting the distressing conditions of content moderation and the lack of real support by the employers will foster solidarity among directly affected workers and users and consequently create public pressure for change.  We see an urgent need for improvements in both the working conditions of content moderation and the functioning of the AI systems that depend on it to function. 

Our choice to speak up is driven by the conviction that information and transparency about working conditions and unequal profit opportunities throughout the industry are a necessary first step to improvement. Our hope is that many more content moderators will voice their contempt and collectively fight for fairer working conditions, as we can only fight the seeming omnipotence of tech giants by organizing and standing together.

Recommended citation:

Anonymous Workers (2024). Mind over Moderation. In  M. Miceli, A. Dinika, K. Kauffman, C. Salim Wagner,  L. Sachenbacher (eds.): The Data Workers’ Inquiry. https://data-workers.org/berlin

About the Author


Doe has been working as a content moderator in Germany since 2019. They are extremely dissatisfied with the working conditions, which induce excessive physical and mental stress due to constant exposure to disturbing content. Unable to be further complicit in this form of exploitation, they chose to raise their voice to create awareness, foster solidarity and put pressure on employers.


Joe has been working as a content moderator in Germany since 2019. As a migrant with a bachelor’s degree in science, they relocated to Germany in the hope of a better life. Joe firmly believes that the only way to change things for the better is through collective action and individual responsibility, both of which rely on adequate information about the daily working lives of content moderators.

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