We Don’t Deserve the Internet

By Bill Maher 

In Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Uncle Charlie asks his niece, “Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you’d find swine?”  

Sure, he was a psychopath, but he wasn’t wrong. In fact, the internet has proven him right. 

There’s a rather frightening story in Wired Magazine that brings us inside a world most of us didn’t know even existed: the internet scum scrubber. That’s not its actual term, but that’s the job description of some 100,000 people around the world whose job it is to monitor social media sites, mobile aps, and cloud storage companies so that they can remove revolting illegality, pornography, and general scumbaggery. 

Turns out much of this happens in the Philippines, where workers toiling next to a whiteboard that lists categories like “pornography, gore, minors, sexual solicitation, sexual body parts/images, racism” and spend their day removing things like “dick pics, thong shots, exotic objects inserted into bodies, hateful taunts, and requests for oral sex.” As well as about 90 percent of what the Japanese post.

But the piece focuses more on the toll this takes on the people whose job this is. Says one YouTube moderator, “Everybody hits the wall, generally between three and five months. You just think, ‘Holy shit, what am I spending my day doing? This is awful.’”

Another adds, “I get really affected by bestiality with children. I have to stop. I have to stop for a moment and loosen up, maybe go to Starbucks and have a coffee.” Others talk about becoming intensely paranoid when your “every day” consists of seeing “the infinite variety of human depravity.” 

This is who we are when no one is looking, so much that it takes over 100,000 people working round the clock to make the internet somewhat less disgusting than it already is.