The Cleaners

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You’ll learn more about Facebook’s devastating relationship to the Myanmar genocide of the Rohingya Muslims in the 88 minutes of this incredibly timely German documentary than you will from four hours of Apple News bits, bites and bobs. You’ll also learn more about how fake news spreads throughout not only Facebook and other social platforms but through Google itself than you would if you’d listened to the entire US congressional hearings into those applications.

You do so through the prism of “cleaners”, a work-force of thousands employed in Manila who spend their days and nights approving or deleting flagged images and videos for Google, Facebook, Twitter and others. Some have to service 25,000 images or videos a day, and all of them, by their nature, have the potential to be highly disturbing. Violence, pornography, propaganda and terrorist acts all pass the eyes of these front-line curators of the world’s internet experience; they are then expected to be able to sleep at night and view 25,000 more upsetting things tomorrow.

This is stuff from dystopian fiction, it’s happening now, and it’s very disturbing. It also makes this compelling doc a must-see if you care at all about how the internet works.

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