Mental health issues are allegedly rife within teams who work to moderate content on Grindr, a damning report has revealed.
A report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) revealed that staff working with Grindr, Bumble, and Match Group – the company that owns Hinge and Tinder – frequently face major mental health issues that they attribute to working conditions.
After interviewing more than 40 staff members, most of whom work in Match Group’s content moderation teams, it found that anxiety, depression and PTSD were incredibly common.
One staff member had allegedly attempted suicide multiple times.
Much of the emotional turmoil allegedly extends to low pay and unreasonable targets. TBIJ reported that some staff were forced to make decisions about whether to ban users from Grindr in a minute or less.
Grindr mostly relies on an outsourced organisation, PartnerHero, for much of its content moderation. PartnerHero recruits many of its staff members from Honduras and allegedly pays its team of moderators an average of $700 a month.
Understaffing is a frequent concern and can result in errors in abuse reports which the report noted could put people who are facing sexual harassment or assault in significant danger.
‘It was just a volatile environment to be in’
One former Grindr moderator noted that the team sometimes made mistakes “that could have been avoided if we had more people.”
“There were not enough people to cover the quantity of stuff that was happening,” Laura, a former Bumble staffer in the UK, told TBIJ. “Rather than hiring more people, they put more pressure on us to get higher numbers.”
These unreasonable targets would cause immense mental stress on staff which was allegedly ignored.
One PartnerHero worker, Ana, said the company ignored the fact that she was seriously ill and tried to fire her when her productivity targets were not met.
She said PartnerHero staff were required to maintain a level of quality assurance – marked as a “quality score” – of at least 92 per cent or else face sanctions.
Grindr allegedly underpaid staff despite making record profits after going public. (Getty)
Three workers told TBIJ that they felt they had been unfairly penalised or had their contracts terminated after changes in the way they were assessed.
All of this heavily exacerbated the already gruelling task of handling cases of misogyny, transphobia and “general vileness.”
One former worker who moderated Hinge said: “We were getting graded every week on our performance and If you got below 85 [per cent] or some high number, you could be fired.
“It was just a volatile environment to be in and when the quota went up, you had more chances of getting things wrong.”
Mental health support in Grindr was lacking
Mental health support was allegedly so lacking in Grindr’s moderation team that mental health issues were as common as departures.
“We had three people just leave that day… Because they could not handle it,” one of the organisation’s Honduras-based workers told TBIJ.
Mental health benefits were allegedly hard-fought in PartnerHero after the firm refused to implement better support until 2020, when a third-party organisation was contracted to provide therapy.
Before then, workers were allegedly left with little support after being subjected to wholly disturbing cases, including child sexual abuse material or domestic abuse cases.
Of the 14 former Grindr moderators TBIJ spoke to, almost all testified to traumatic conditions, including symptoms of stress or PTSD.
“Everyone’s emotions, at some point, started to leak into the air,” one former colleague said. “People were able to feel it… They noticed the tension, the hostile environment. It was awful.”
In a statement, PartnerHero told TBIJ that everyone on its Grindr team in Honduras receives medical and mental health plans and access to an employee assistance programme, with enhanced offerings for moderators.
PinkNews has contacted Grindr for comment, but it has yet to respond.