The Content Moderator Fighting ISIS On His Computer Screen
Hasan Hamad has seen public executions and beheadings, but one traumatic video kept him awake for two days straight.
He has been a content moderator for eight years, purging horrific social media posts from the Islamic State, but one piece of content has stuck with him.
In 2015, coalition-backed fighter Muath al-Kaseasbeh was captured by the Islamic State after his jet crashed during a mission in Raqqa, Syria.
The Islamic State claimed they'd spare the pilot's life and free a Japanese journalist if Jordanian authorities released a convicted female terrorist from death row.
Instead, the terrorist group locked the Jordanian man in a cage, drenched him with gasoline and ignited a trail of gas, setting him on fire.
ISIS gleefully broadcast the 26-year-old's murder on social media. He was shown screaming in pain and collapsing to his knees as the flames engulfed him.
As unrest flared in Jordan, social media moderators worked tirelessly to stop the video from spreading and prevent users from stumbling upon the footage. Hamad is one of the social media moderators who worked around the clock to remove countless copies of the video from social media.
To protect people from experiencing trauma over the horrific scenes, he put his own mental health at risk, watching the video over and over.
"This was a nightmare for all Jordanian people. [For me it was] not only watching it. It was a full night of reporting and deleting that video from all platforms," Hamad told 10 daily.
"The worst thing you can see is how a trending hashtag [gets] spoiled with these images, encouraging people to do unethical actions under the name of religion or seeing people get killed."
For some moderators, sleep is compromised, as graphic videos of torture and death are seared into their minds.
Hamad said it can take "weeks or months" to recover from encountering some of the most graphic content.
"I've been up two days thinking what, how and why people do something like this and trust me it's a very hard thing," he said.
"Your brain is always working like a crisis management centre, dreaming of many things happening every day and thinking about the best way to solve the crises."
Hamad has over 27,000 followers on Twitter, and uses his account to spread positive messages— a drastic contrast from ISIS' social media strategy.
He said he's witnessed the advancement of ISIS' production quality and social media methods over the years. The camera angles, audio and graphics have become more refined, and jihadists have taken to using live streams to show malicious acts and public riots in real-time.
He added the number of extremist posts has declined, as ISIS now struggles to hold onto territory in the Middle East.
Nicolas Stuart* is another social media moderator working in the United States who sorts through 350 posts of "flagged" content a day.
In 16 months working as a moderator, the 28-year-old has deleted Nazi propaganda, recordings of suicide attempts, and footage of a drug cartel killing a mother and daughter.
While he said 80 percent of the content is "harmless jokes", not all of it is. He admitted he becomes "a bit squeamish" every time he sees "a bone sticking out of a body or a deep cut with muscle showing".
"I just came to understanding that everything I see is in the past, it already happened," Stuart said.
"So no matter how much I would like to dwell on it, it's not going to change it's outcome. The person is still going to jump off the bridge or the person is still going to be beheaded."
Preventing viral contagion, the beautification of suicide or the promotion of hate speech is something that gives Stuart "hope".
"I look at the world in a different tone. Death never really bothered me as it was something I grew up around," Stuart said.
"It's another facet of life, I just now see what is normally hidden from the other side of the world."
*Name has been changed to protect individual's identity
Contact Eden on Twitter @edengillespie