The Cleaners
By Marla Keller With on February 05, 2018

The Cleaners is a documentary which addresses the cleaning up of offensive or inappropriate content on social media, and it was a topic that I was completely unaware. I was under the impression that the people who do this are hired by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They are not, they are hired by a third-party, and they are twenty-somethings living in the Philippines. It was very heavy, disturbing, and insightful. The directors did a very good job of giving space and time between chunks of traumatic information so that the audience could digest it. One downside is that the movie is quite slow at times, and it became difficult to keep track of the different people that they profiled. The horror that these twenty-year-old Filipinos are consuming for eight hours a day through the pictures and videos that are posted that contain horrendous things like beheadings, live suicides, dead children, pornography, etc., is tragic. It seems to me that it is also unethical to hire these kids for pennies a day and allow them to be the judge and jury regarding what stays and what is deleted. The story of one cleaner who was the moderator of live suicides ended his life tragically by hanging himself is tragic. What this job does to these underpaid and overworked young people is atrocious. It was traumatic to see the horrifying content that the cleaners deleted. The directors sped through it in the documentary, but it was shown often enough for myself and others in the audience to gasp and cover our eyes. It was even presented that the polarization of the United States might be the result of young Filipinos who are making the judgment calls on what content stays on the social media and what must go. One very conservative Catholic young lady said that it was her job to delete sin from the internet. As Jesus-followers this needs to bother us enough to act on it. We are called to speak for justice and protect the downtrodden. God speaks to us in many ways, and movies are just one of those. I believe that this movie is a call to awareness, justice, and action for everybody, but specifically the church to effect change in a way that causes social media networks to take personal responsibility for not only the removal of inappropriate content but also for these kids whose lives are being destroyed. The church can also be a great place for healing for these kids.

About the Author: Marla Keller

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