The International Center of Photography and ProPublica are hosting a free screening of The Cleaners on Sunday, November 18 at Anthology FIlm Archives. The film’s New York City premiere, the screening will be followed by a discussion with ProPublica senior reporter Jack Gillum and Amie Stepanovich, US policy manager for Access Now, a nonprofit dedicated to an open and free internet. The two will explore challenging questions that The Cleaners raises about Silicon Valley’s control over what we see on the internet, whether social media networks can moderate their own content, and what possible solutions exist for the paradigm between making the internet safe and free speech.

Who controls what you see on the internet? The Cleaners, a documentary by German filmmakers Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block, takes viewers inside a hidden industry of digital “cleaning,” in which content deemed inappropriate is deleted from the internet. Made with cooperation from ProPublica, the film follows five content managers — anonymous workers, outsourced from the Philippines by social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — who take on the work of viewing millions of deeply disturbing images and videos that have been flagged. A typical “cleaner” views 25,000 posts a day, deciding what to delete and what to ignore. The Cleaners also illuminates the challenges posed by online censorship, in which art, activism, and entire conversations and perspectives can be struck from worldview.

This is a free event, but please register in advance.

Speaker Bios

Jack Gillum is a senior reporter at ProPublica covering technology, specializing in how algorithms, big data, and social media platforms affect people’s daily lives and civil rights. He joined ProPublica in July 2018.

Gillum came to ProPublica from the Washington Post, where he was part of the investigative team that dug into mismanaged taxpayer funds and troubled relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Prior to the Post, Gillum was an investigative reporter at the Associated Press, where he broke stories on the existence and location of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as a US-backed “Cuban Twitter” program that secretly mined data for political purposes. At the AP, he also covered two presidential races and the world of campaign finance.

Gillum began his career as a business reporter and database specialist at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, his hometown. He is a graduate of Columbia University's graduate school of journalism and Santa Clara University in California. He lives in Washington, DC.

Amie Stepanovich is the US policy manager at Access Now, working to ensure that laws and policies on surveillance and cybersecurity recognize and respect human rights. Amie manages and develops the organization's US policy and leads global projects at the intersection of human rights and government surveillance. Previously, Stepanovich  was the director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, where she testified in hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as in State legislatures. Amie is a board member of the Internet Education Foundation. She was a liaison to the American Bar Association's Cybersecurity Working Group and co-chaired the 2014 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference. Stepanovich was named as a Privacy Ambassador by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada and was recognized in 2014 as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 leaders in Law and Policy. She has a JD from New York Law School, and a BS from the Florida State University.


TOP IMAGE: Courtesy of Gebruederbeetz Film Production