THE CLEANERS
The picture shows dilapidated huts on a dirty river in front of modern high-rise facades.
Thu, 20.09.2018, 7 pm CEST

»THE CLEANERS« is a journey into a hidden shadow industry in Manila right in the heart of digital censorship – where the Internet needs to be »cleaned« of controversial content. Who controls what we see and what we think?

THE CLEANERS unveils a gigantic shadow industry of digital censorship in Manila, the world's largest outsourcing location for content moderation. Tens of thousands of people erase incriminating photos and videos from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter & Co. Complex decisions about censorship or visibility of content are thus outsourced to the »content moderators«. The criteria and guidelines according to which they act are one of the best protected secrets of the Silicon Valley. The cruelty and continuous stress of this traumatizing work changes the perception and personality of the content moderators. But that's not all. They are forbidden to talk about their experiences.

Parallel to the stories of five content moderators, the film tells of the global effects of online censorship and shows how fake news and hatred are spread and reinforced by social networks. The utopian vision of a networked global Internet community finally becomes a nightmare when high-ranking former employees of the Social Networks give insights into the functioning and mechanisms of the platforms. By specifically amplifying and multiplying all kinds of emotions, the platforms will become dangerous fire accelerators that fuel social, political and social conflicts and drive forward the impending division of our society.

Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media

Accompanying program