Home Security Microsoft online safety ex-staff sue over PTSD

Microsoft online safety ex-staff sue over PTSD

Two former members of Microsoft's online safety team have sued the company for damages over what they claim are permanent psychological injuries for which they were told they could not get workers' compensation.

According to a detailed report in The Daily Beast, Henry Soto and Greg Blauert had alleged in the lawsuit, filed on 30 December 2016, that when they complained to the company about the extreme porn and murder videos they had to watch as part of their job, they were just told to take more smoke breaks.

Both were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after years at the job and were asked to take medical leave.

The pair claim they could see any customer's communications at any time and were specifically asked to screen such material for child porn and evidence of other crimes.

The report said Soto and Blauert claimed Microsoft did not offer an adequate health plan and after years of watching such videos they said they had suffered psychological distress.

The pair also allege that Microsoft said it could not provide them a therapist with the requisite training and also refused to pay for therapy.

The Daily Beast said Microsoft, when contacted for comment, issued a general response and did not speak about the matter at hand.

Soto claimed that he did not ask for a job in the online safety team, alleging that he was not told of the nature of the job, only that he would be reviewing terms of use violations when he was drafted in.

But when he began work with the team, he found that he was required to look at photos and videos depicting "horrible brutality, murder, indescribable sexual assaults, videos of humans dying and, in general, videos and photographs designed to entertain the most twisted and sick-minded people in the world", according to the suit.

The report said, according to the suit Microsoft allegedly had a comprehensive mental health programme for members of its Digital Crimes Unit. This was not extended to the online safety team.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.