Horror Stories From Inside Amazon's Mechanical Turk

The workers of Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s on-demand micro-task platform, say they have encountered mutilated bodies, graphic videos of botched surgeries, and what appeared to be child pornography. They say they have been asked to transcribe Social Security numbers and other personal data. Sometimes their temporary bosses, “requesters” in Amazon’s parlance, allegedly ask their anonymized employees to send along their underwear, take photos of their feet, or to draw pictures of their genitals. They say they have been paid to recount traumatic instances in their lives – a cancer diagnosis, severe depression, or the death of a loved one – often for less than a dollar. These are some of 1,100 responses to two surveys Gizmodo recently posed to gig workers on Mechanical Turk asking for their experiences using the platform. Unlike the tribulations of Amazon’s warehouse workers, which have been well documented, the experiences of gig workers on Mechanical Turk are far less visible.