Book Review: We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets

Title: We Had to Remove This Post

Author: Hanna Bervoets

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 160

Rating: A-

Recommended?: Yes

We Had to Remove This Post didn’t get a high rating on Goodreads (just over three stars) and I’m not particularly surprised- it’s not for everybody and more to the point, it has no real ending. But I found it fascinating and provocative nonetheless.

Based on a true case where Facebook ‘content moderators’ decided to sue the company for the images and videos they were exposed to, We Had to Remove This Post centers around Kayleigh, a young Dutch lesbian who’s hired to review flagged content on a FB-like social media website.

The rules for what goes and what stays are infuriatingly arbitrary and as Kayleigh becomes more and more desensitized to the racism, child abuse, bestiality, and violent crime she’s forced to witness her relationship with her girlfriend Sigrid suffers, leading to unforgivable behavior from Kayleigh.

Kayleigh was not a likable character but I felt like this one of those instances where having an unlikable protagonist actually worked in the book’s favor. Sigrid was a complete flake but she still deserved better. There was a lot of moral grayness with the relationships not being simple and straightforward. Just the kind of story I like!

You don’t know to what extent Kayleigh’s in the wrong until the very end, and it isn’t clear if she’s an unreliable narrator or not. Did she have a screw loose before the moderator job? Probably. As soon as I saw an article on the FB content moderator issue I was curious about it and I was excited that someone wrote a fiction book about the subject. In my opinion, it delivered and brought up some interesting questions while offering a tight and fittingly discomforting narrative.

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