Facebook Parent Company Meta Sued in Kenya
Daniel Motaung, a former Facebook content moderator, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms alleging that working conditions for hired content moderators are in violation of the Kenyan Constitution.
The petition, which was also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company Sama, states that employees moderating Facebook posts in Kenya are being subjected to unfair working conditions such as irregular pay, insufficient mental health support, human trafficking, union-busting, and violations of their privacy.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, a requirement that outsourced moderators have the same health care and pay as Meta workers, the preservation of organized labor rights, and an independent human rights assessment of the workplace. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, May 10th, and is said to be the first of its kind as it seeks reforms to the system and company in addition to financial compensation.
According to Meta’s representative, “We take our responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously and require our partners to provide industry-leading pay, benefits, and support. We also encourage content reviewers to raise issues when they become aware of them and regularly conduct independent audits to ensure our partners are meeting the high standards we expect.”
Motaung, who was an outsourced content moderator for the firm Sama, says that employees were paid $1.50 per hour.
Sama has previously denied charges that its employees were paid unjustly, that the recruiting process was opaque, or that its mental health benefits were inadequate before viewing the case.
The lawsuit’s particular demands for action are more comprehensive and broad-based than those made in past cases, and they might have far-reaching consequences beyond Kenya.
“This could have ripple effects. Facebook is going to have to reveal a lot about how they run their moderation operation,” said Odanga Madung, a Mozilla Foundation fellow who works on internet rights throughout the world.
Thousands of moderators throughout the world scrutinize social media posts that may contain violence, nudity, racism, or other inappropriate content. Montaug has stated that he, along with other Sama employees, viewed “violent beheadings and the sexual abuse of children” while on the job. He stated that he has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to his job, which is one of the reasons why he is pushing for mental health benefits for employees in the lawsuit. Rather than working for IT businesses, many people work for third-party contractors. Meta has already been chastised for the working conditions of its content moderators.
Previous Charges against Facebook Company
In 2021, a California judge awarded over ten thousand content moderators $85 million in damages after they claimed the corporation failed to safeguard them from psychological harm resulting from exposure to graphic and violent images.
In the California case, Facebook did not acknowledge fault, but it did agree to take steps to promote safer working conditions for its third-party content moderators.
The Kenyan case was filed on account of Motaung, who was hired from South Africa and employed by Sama in Nairobi in 2019. Before his arrival, Motaung claims he was not provided any information regarding the nature of the job, which included evaluating Facebook posts.
A beheading was the first video Motaung remembered moderating. The distressing information accumulated, but Motaung claims that his wages and mental health care were insufficient.
“I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Motaung said. “I am living …a horror movie.”
Meta and Sama, according to Motaung’s attorneys, created a hazardous and demeaning workplace in which workers were not afforded the same safeguards as employees in other nations.
“In Dublin, people can’t look at harmful content for two hours. That should be the rule everywhere,” Motaung’s lawyer Mercy Mutemi said. “If they need to have a psychologist on call, that should apply everywhere.”
Soon after joining Sama, Motaung attempted to create a union to represent the company’s about 200 Nairobi employees. He was fired shortly after, which he and his attorneys claim was due to the effort at unionization. The Kenyan Constitution protects union rights. This claim has elicited no response from Sama. Motaung’s story was initially uncovered in a Time magazine piece published in February 2022.