Two young German filmmakers managed to gain access to one of the best-guarded secrets of social media companies: its content moderators. Outsourced to anonymous workforces in the Philippines, these people decide what content is fit to circulate on Facebook, Twitter, and the likes. Every picture, meme, video or GIF is scanned topically for inappropriate content – 25000 pictures a day per ‘cleaner’. From exposed nipples, child pornography, political satire and art, to state censorship, the savage beheadings of ISIS and the rise of populism worldwide through algorithms thriving on outrage. ‘The cleaners’ look on and sift through, making decisions that affect global elections and the future of Europe.
A documentary that feels like a thriller, The Cleaners unveils a myriad of troubling ethical and social issues, all connected to our desire to be connected.