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The Bots
(Turkish Market)

We know that everything we post on social media is screened and surveilledreportable and deletable—subject to ‘community guidelines’ and ‘content restrictions’.

Whose community? Whose restrictions? There must be some algorithm involved, right?

The Bots are no robots. They are human beings in offices. The Bots apply rules that they have received from elsewhere (perhaps from some other office, in California) while assessing your vacation photos, your uncle’s pornography, your neighbor’s glorifications of Hitler, your friend trying to make a living selling herbal teas, or your local MP’s anti-immigrant diatribe.

Somewhere—let’s say, in Berlin—people sit behind screens in drab office buildings and decide what stays and what goes. They are not supposed to speak to anyone about their job. The artists Eva & Franco Mattes have however tracked them down and convinced them to share their experiences.

Open Secret debuts three newly commissioned video works by the artists (in collaboration with writer Adrian Chen) based on the real confessions of Facebook content moderators. These videos borrow the aesthetics of fake make-up tutorials, which are sometimes used on social media to bypass censorship. Speaking to their smartphones, from their apartments, actors Jesse Hoffman and Irina Cocimarov perform versions of the interviews, combining the mundane levity of dressing up for one’s followers with the equally mundane horror of online hate.

The Bots are true accounts, using words from the workers that social media keeps hidden.“

– Eva & Franco Mattes

The videos were shot with support from DIS