Review: The Cleaners

Title: The Cleaners
Rating: NR
Director: Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck
Starring: Illma Gore
Runtime: 1 hr 28 mins

What It Is: Most of us are featured users on a variety of social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc… yet not many of us are aware of what it is to be a content moderator. This documentary details the work (much of which is outsourced to the Philippines) and how it affects and protects us in ways that people deem in certain instances as either beneficial or over-censorship.

What We Think: Technically, this is a very clean and overall pretty sound documentary, though at times it feels like it attempts at a longer runtime with slightly drawn-out transitions. It otherwise manages to maintain interest throughout the duration as it reveals the hidden humanity behind the living filters of social media networks. It speaks honestly across different viewpoints on our sort of modern-age horror as those working or used to work as moderators describe their experiences passing or deleting pictures and videos: many of the media they come across being psychologically damaging and overall excessively graphic and insensitive in nature. In that—this film is eye-opening, displaying the many contradictions and hypocrisies that come with social media, and thus the “cleaning” and censorship within. While we all are being protected by the moderators and the act of moderation, many still find themselves affected in unfair and often tragic circumstances.

Our Grade: B, A great documentary to watch on the subject. I certainly recommend it, though it may be too disturbing to some as it does feature some of the milder graphic content that is watched by the moderators. This is a well-constructed portrait that paints the deeper and more complex nuances we are left heated over in our technology-reliant society, and in that, is inspiring in its honest thought-provoking.