‘I Can Hear the Suffering’: Rev Exposes Freelance Transcribers to Violent, Disturbing Content

Transcribers say they’ve come across descriptions of child sex trafficking and domestic abuse — all without warning

Sarah Emerson
OneZero
Published in
5 min readNov 23, 2019

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RRev is an on-demand transcription service that relies on tens of thousands of gig workers to transcribe its customers’ audio files and write captions for their videos. But these freelancers, who have blown the whistle on payment and security flaws in recent weeks, say their work exposes them to unfiltered graphic content — audio accounts of child sexual abuse and video footage containing medical gore, for example.

One such recording described to OneZero by a freelancer, or “Revver,” as the company calls its workers, seemed innocuous at first. The file contained audio submitted in a court case, but then, without warning, one of its subjects began “talking seriously” about killing their kids, the Revver said.

OneZero independently confirmed that content involving violence currently exists on Rev. Because transcribers are not supposed to keep customer files, OneZero did not review the specific recordings described by Revvers, who requested anonymity for fear of violating Rev’s non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements.

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Sarah Emerson
OneZero

Staff writer at OneZero covering social platforms, internet communities, and the spread of misinformation online. Previously: VICE