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Security Contractor at Facebook Content Moderation Facility Arrested for Allegedly Threatening People With a Gun

Police recently arrested a security contractor who works at a Facebook content moderation facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for allegedly threatening people with a handgun. The facility is owned by Cognizant, a Facebook contractor. The threatening behavior did not happen at the Cognizant facility itself, but the individual was arrested while on duty at work.

On April 3, Glendale Police responded to a report of aggravated assault, according to a copy of the police report shared by the police department with Motherboard. As two adult victims with a five year old child in the back seat of their car drove through a parking lot, a Maroon Dodge Dart vehicle blocked their path. The victim honked her horn, and the white male driver—Chris Cooper—of the Dodge pointed a black handgun at the three of them through his back window, the report reads. At an intersection, the driver pointed the handgun at them again, “causing them [the victims] to fear they may be shot,” the report adds.

On May 24, more than a month after the incident, police took Cooper into custody, according to the report. Cooper admitted to being in the same parking lot and removing a semi-automatic handgun from the rear seat to holster on his hip; he denied pointing the weapon at the victims, but says he “did flip them off with his left hand,” the report adds.

“The handgun was recovered during a search warrant at [the defendant’s] residence in reference to this case,” the report concludes.

Do you work on content moderation for a tech company? Did you previously work on it? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Cooper is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the Glendale Police Department said.

It appears Cooper remained working at the Cognizant facility during the month-long period between the incident and his arrest. The facility is the same one that featured in a recent longform investigation from The Verge into the working conditions of Facebook’s content moderators in America. In that, workers described extreme stress, anxiety, and trauma from reviewing disturbing material, and one employee said they started bringing a gun to work to protect themselves, according to The Verge.

Cooper is not an employee of Facebook or Cognizant. Instead, he is employed by a firm that provides security for the contractor.

A Cognizant spokesperson said in an emailed statement “Cognizant is aware that an employee of one [of] our private security vendors was served with an arrest warrant in late May for a non-work related incident at an off-site location. The incident did not involve any Cognizant property, associates or security work. The person in question no longer works at a Cognizant facility. Any further inquiries should be addressed to the security vendor.”

Facebook declined to comment.

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