New FiReFilms Marquee Film – The Cleaners
Link is valid until midnight Friday, July 27
Dear SNS FiReFilms member,
We are so excited to share our new FiReFilms Marquee Film, The Cleaners, which we selected from Sundance this year. This is not an “easy” film to watch, but it gives a very important picture of how social-media content is filtered. You will likely be shocked by what you discover about how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others hire thousands of offshore “cleaners” to remove potentially very disturbing content before global posting – with minimal training and no support.
The Cleaners, while posing the question of who decides what we see on the internet, also spotlights the role of these offshore subcontractors, who receive less than five hours of training to remove what is basically very disturbing or aggressively offensive visual content. Most of the cleaners don’t speak English, but they are tasked with identifying content for removal or deletion. There is a disturbingly high suicide rate among these cleaners, and the filmmakers are seeking support to assist them with psychological help.
As always, we look forward to your comments, which we will forward to the directors and producers.
When you post something on the web, can you be sure it stays there? Enter a hidden shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the internet rids itself of what it doesn’t like. Who is controlling what we see… and what we think?
The Cleaners unveils a giant shadow industry of digital censorship in Manila, the world’s largest outsourcing location for content moderation. There tens of thousands of people working in 10-hour shifts on behalf of large Silicon Valley companies to delete incriminating photos and videos from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Complex decisions about censorship or visibility of content are thus outsourced to the ‘content moderators.’ The criteria and guidelines they use are one of the best-kept secrets of Silicon Valley. The cruelty and the continuous burden of this traumatic work changes the perception and personality of the content moderators. But that’s not all. They are forbidden to talk about their experiences.
In addition to the stories of five content moderators, the film tells of the global impact of online censorship and shows how fake news and hate are spread and amplified through social networks. The utopian vision of a networked global internet community is finally becoming a nightmare when high-ranking former social-network workers provide insights into the mechanisms of the platforms. Through targeted amplification and duplication of all kinds of emotions, the platforms become dangerous accelerators, fueling social and political conflicts and driving the threat of division of our society. (Translation by Google Translate, lightly edited)
In our debut film, The Cleaners, it’s the double bottom of the safe internet, which billions of users experience every day. It appears as a matter of course, but actually comes at a high price: the hidden exploitation of thousands of young workers in the developing world and the silencing of critical thinking in the digital space.
About the Directors
Hans Block is a German theater director, musician, and filmmaker. He studied music at the Berlin University of the Arts and directing at the Ernst Busch Institute for Theatre Directing, also in Berlin. Moritz Riesewieck is a German theater director, author, and filmmaker. He studied economics as a scholar of the German National Academic Foundation, followed by directing at the Ernst Busch Institute for Theatre Directing in Berlin.
Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block have been working as a team since 2007 under the label Laocoön, creating theater performances and cross-media work. The legend of Laocoön – who revealed the danger of the Trojan Horse – serves as an example of their work. The Cleaners marks their debut documentary movie.
About the Producer
Christian Beetz is the founder and CEO of beetz brothers film productions, one of Europe’s leading nonfiction film, TV, and cross-media production companies. Under his leadership, the company has released more than 200 high-quality documentaries and cutting-edge cross-media formats for the international market, and, according to the leading industry publication Realscreen, has emerged as one of today‘s top 100 international independent film production companies.
The beetz brothers‘ productions compete regularly at all major international film festivals and have won numerous prestigious awards, including the Sundance Special Jury Award, three Grimme Awards, the Cinema for Peace Award, three British Independent Awards, the Prix Europa, the Hot Docs Special Jury Prize, and the IDFA Special Jury Award. In 2013, the beetz brothers‘ co-production Open Heart was nominated for an Academy Award, and the two documentaries The Wagner Files and Gabo – The Creation of Gabriel García Marquez were nominated for the International Emmy Award in 2014 and 2016.
SNS FiReFilms Membership
We always pay filmmakers for allowing us to share their films with FiReFilms members. At the same time, we feel that it’s important to keep our membership fee low, at an annual cost of $195/person, or 2 for $350.
Please share the love of SNS FiReFilms with your friends, and invite them to join at . With the new cellphone notification system you have, you can share the trailer of our current documentary with friends and family, and they can sign up on the spot using your phone, gaining immediate access to the full film and receiving all of the annual benefits that FiReFilms memberships provide. These memberships also make great gifts.
Annual benefits include 12-14 Marquee films and 4 Director Call-In Series documentaries and phone calls; invitations to FiReFilms Screening Clubs in your area; invitations to occasional members-only special events, including at select film festivals; and a complimentary 2-month subscription to Mark Anderson’s weekly digital SNS Global Report on Technology and the Global Economy.
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If there’s a documentary you believe we should consider for our FiReFilms members as a Marquee Film or as a Director Call-In feature, just email me and cc: Mary at with the title and an introduction to the filmmaker, if possible.
Please keep sending us your thoughts; we value every comment we receive, and we share (if you would like us to) your feedback with the directors of our featured films.
With warmest regards and thanks to each of you for your passion for film to educate, inspire, and transform,
Sharon Anderson Morris
Sharon Anderson Morris
FiReFilms is pleased to provide documentary film content to its members that addresses globally relevant issues for purposes of consideration and discussion. FiReFilms does not necessarily espouse the editorial positions of supported films, but presents the best films available on science- and technology-related topics for the independent evaluation and conclusions of its members. We encourage your debate on these critically important and socially relevant issues.
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