Rev 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.
That such material might surface on Rev’s platform is not unexpected. The Rev blog suggests that law enforcement, doctors, and lawyers use Rev for dictations or interviews, and its name has appeared in citations within police documents, court records, and patient studies.
But the disturbing content sometimes uploaded by these clients is at odds with Rev’s own terms of service, which discourage customers from submitting material that is “unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, excessively violent, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, pornographic, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.”
“I’ve come across files that I thought were typical enough, and 20 minutes into the hour, it gets into the details of somebody’s sexual assault.”