Former moderators at TikTok have now laid bare to The Telegraph how the company grappled with keeping up with the flood of new users and activity as it grew at an exponential rate.
In 2018, TikTok came to the UK and started to hire an army of moderators outside of China, primarily based in Britain and America.
Former moderators said when they were hired they were initially told that they would be watching between 100 and 400 videos a day, but in reality they claim they were watching between 1,000 and 1,200 – with a strict target to get to every video within 15 minutes of it being flagged.
This led to moderators watching videos on double or some four-times speed just to hit team quotas, according to sources.
TikTok said that as its videos are on average 15 seconds long 1,000 videos equates to around four working hours, which is in line with tech industry workload standards.
Former moderators also reported having to watch and make judgments on videos in languages they didn’t understand if the company did not have a department for that particular country.
One ex-moderator said: “It was awful as you were feeling the pressure all the time. You had the managers telling you every two or three hours ‘come on guys, these are the numbers (of videos you have watched), you can do it, come one, get going, get going.”
The former moderator added that at the end of the workday they were exhausted but could not sleep properly because the catchy pop songs they had been bombarded with for hours on end were so firmly lodged in their mind.
While many of the videos the teams watched were innocuous, they were also exposed to darker content such as clips of people committing suicide or torturing animals.
TikTok did offer its moderators counselling services to cope with the stress.
However, one former moderator said: “Psychological support is mostly [from] other content moderators. People often tried to pick each other up and just generally have some kind of conversation to either help pass time or distract [them].”