Everyday Activist - The Cleaners (CUFF.Docs 2018)

Posted on Saturday, December 01, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The Cleaners (CUFF.Docs 2018)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Technology seems so advanced that we often think computers and algorithms are responsible for everything when in reality we still need human capital to make our world run the way we want it to. Until my roommate started a job working on closed captioning, I thought the captions were run by dictation software. Instead, she speaks into a machine first and then the captions are created. Similarly, in The Cleaners, we see Filipinos working for 3rd party companies who contract out to Facebook and Google “cleaning” the Internet of videos and images that violate the policies these companies have laid out rather than computer algorithms filtering out what isn’t acceptable.

Many of these videos have disturbing and violent content that negatively impact the mental health of people whose job it is to watch them. Scary movies upset me for weeks. I couldn’t imagine watching child pornography, live suicides or constant military attacks on people for work everyday. As is often the case with contract based services, the employees may not have access to mental health services. Given the terms of their contracts, they may not be allowed to change jobs within the company or leave without penalty.

The filmmakers did a fantastic job of contextualizing the issue by including voices from U.S. where these big companies are based, in addition to following the workers in their day-to-day lives. U.S. judicial inquiries provided additional dimensions to the issue of censorship and its delicate balance. Generally, violent scenes are taken down; however in Syria, uploading videos onto social media platforms was a way for people to document the bombings in their cities. To make sure this documentation is preserved, people download videos before they are taken down. In Turkey, the government regulates social media much as it would mainstream media, telling the companies what is and isn’t acceptable to be accessed from inside the country.

I don’t have many social media outlets anymore, as I wasted too much time getting caught up in what other people are doing. In Myanmar, the Rohingyas are still persecuted with horrific stories. Many of the refugees flee to Bangladesh where they aren’t treated any better. The hate is effectively distributed by Facebook, because of the “likes” it generates. The racism and violence causes the U.S. judiciary system to address these issue with Facebook representatives. For more on this please see the New York Times article: Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis.

The Cleaners closes out Calgary's Documentary Film Festival (CUFF.Docs 2018) on Sunday December 2nd, 2018 at 9:20 pm at the Globe Cinema.

Calgary Showtimes: Cleaners, The >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.