Two ex-Microsoft employees have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming they have been left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after viewing upsetting images flagged by the company's safety systems.
Whistleblowers Henry Soto and Greg Blauert from Microsoft's Online Safety Team claim that the company failed its duty of care to support them in a role that involves vetting pictures flagged for possible images of child abuse.
Such images, either reported or flagged by automated software, have to be reported to the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, but only after each company has manually vetted them for relevance.
The lawsuit filed at the end of last year acknowledges that the work they did could well have saved lives, but that the two men had paid a high psychological price.
The papers claim that despite a mental breakdown in 2013, Microsoft advised Blauert to "smoke", "go for a walk" or "play video games" says the BBC.
Mr Soto is said to have viewed "many thousands of photographs and videos of the most horrible, inhumane and disgusting content one can imagine". He is said to suffer "panic attacks, disassociation, depression, visual hallucinations". He is also said to have struggled to be around children, including his own son due to the "horribly violent acts against children that he had witnessed".
Microsoft has refuted the claims and intends to fight the lawsuit, claiming that the company offers a "wellness programme". Staff are only kept in the post for a short period of time before being transferred and offers full support. In addition, it says that it uses software to lower resolutions, decolourise, and separate audio from video and the only thumbnails are viewed.
A spokesman said: "Microsoft takes seriously its responsibility to remove and report imagery of child sexual exploitation and abuse being shared on its services, as well as the health and resiliency of the employees who do this important work."
But the papers claim that Soto requested to leave the team in 2014 and was told he would have to apply for an internal job "just like any other employee". Microsoft, on the other hand, says that it will happily transfer employees who no longer wish to do the work.
The suit does not specify the level of damages sought but includes a range or recommendations to improve the difficult working conditions for such employees, pointing out that what is offered during the tenure is not preceded by any sort of preparation for the realities of being in the frontline of the war on child abuse, and viewing some of the most disturbing images ever made for hours a day.
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