Life of a Latin American
Data Worker

Irregular working hours, uncertainty, meager wages, and unpaid time are daily realities for platform data workers. This animation video highlights the profession’s structural issues, which are exacerbated by economic and political crises in Latin America.

by Oskarina Veronica Fuentes Anaya

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My name is Oskarina Veronica Fuentes Anaya, and I am a data worker.  I have been doing data work on multiple platforms, mainly Appen, for over ten years. With this animated production, I aim to shed light on life as a data worker in Latin America, highlighting the adversity we face in this uncertain job. This is my story, but it’s also the story of many other workers. I also show some of the many tasks we perform with varying wages: some with meager pay and others with slightly more motivating but inconsistent pay. I hope this production helps highlight what it means to work for these platforms.

I speak for myself and all the data workers I know and communicate with daily. Everyone agrees with me that working for these platforms brings about psychological and physical exhaustion, mainly due to inadequate compensation. In order to generate sufficient resources to cover healthcare, housing, food, and equipment maintenance necessary to perform this work, we need to be available full-time, waiting for tasks that arrive at random intervals and sometimes don’t arrive for weeks. As workers, we economically depend solely on these platforms, so we commit ourselves full-time.

It is important for us to make visible the problems affecting those who give their all to these platforms. From afar, we serve with dedication to making artificial intelligence better and more accessible every day. But we want our efforts to be visible and better rewarded. It is important for us to communicate how we manage our lives in relation to our work, how this work is remunerated, and how our situation as platform workers could be improved.

I would like this message to reach platforms and intermediary companies like Appen and the tech giants who benefit from our work. I want us to be acknowledged as those who work day and night to provide the best quality results to make technological advancement possible.

There is a misconception about data work. People think it’s easy because we work from home, in front of the computer. Some also believe we make a lot of money and have additional benefits for working for big tech companies. Others have no idea that AI training is done this way and not in an office with extraordinary technological equipment.

The issue of freelance data workers is rarely discussed. We are ghosts to society, and I dare say we are cheap, disposable labor for the companies we have served for years without guarantees or protection. That’s why I decided to organize with other data workers, and together, we agreed on the issues to address in this film: scarcity of work, tasks catching us by surprise due to no set schedules, and most tasks being poorly paid. There are, of course, other issues, but these are the main ones as we see them.

Recommended citation:

Fuentes, O. V. (2024). Life of a Latin American Data Worker [Animation by V. L. Ochoa-Andrade. Coordination by M. Miceli, A. Dinika, K. Kauffman, C. Salim Wagner & L. Sachenbacher]. Retrieved from   

About the Author

Oskarina Veronica Fuentes Anaya

Oskarina has over ten years of experience as a freelance data worker. She emigrated from Venezuela to Colombia in search of better economic opportunities. Currently, she works on various online platforms, performing tasks essential to training artificial intelligence models. She joined the Data Workers’ Inquiry to ensure that freelance workers like herself are recognized not as mere tools, but as human beings who significantly contribute to technological advancement.

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