In the words of Sonia Flynn, the managing director of Facebook Ireland, they are “the front line between Facebook and the people who use Facebook”.
She adds that while the “vast majority” of reports received require no further action, when a serious concern is raised the team needs to act quickly and decisively. For this reason, a Community Operations person covering Spain cannot simply get away with speaking fluent Spanish – they must also have a good cultural knowledge of the country. Forty-four different nationalities are represented in the Dublin team alone.
“We put emphasis on hiring people from the different countries with the right language expertise and cultural understanding,” says Flynn. “When someone creates a piece of content – whether it’s a photo or a comment – there’s what’s said and what’s meant. That’s why it’s really important for us to have people who understand not just the language, but the culture of the country that they’re supporting.”
In the past, Facebook has been criticised for lacking the human touch in its interactions with its ever-growing army of users (at last count, there were 1.39 billion of them across the world). A notable example occurred at the end of last year, when American web designer Eric Meyer highlighted what he described as the site’s “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty”.