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Former employee sues Meta in Kenya over exploitation and poor working conditions

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Facebook’s parents company, Meta, has been sued in Kenya. The lawsuit was filed by a former Facebook moderator, who alleged that the working condition contracted workers are subjected to is poor, and against Kenyan constitution.

The suit was also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company, Sama, alleging that Facebook moderators have been exposed to unreasonable working conditions, which includes: irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, union-busting, and violations of their privacy and dignity.

In the suit, the group request that outsourced moderators should be given same health care and pay scale as Meta employees. The group also request financial compensation for the affected workers, reinstatement of unionism, and an independent audit of the human right office.

In response to the suit, a spokesperson for Meta told Reuters that Meta has been taking responsibility for its moderators.

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,” the spokesperson said.

Meta’s outsourcing company in Kenya, Sama, has refused to make comments on the lawsuit until it is privy to the content. It however stated earlier that it its employees are fairly treated.

In the past, Meta had faced criticism over the way it treats its moderators. In 2021, a judge in California approved an $85 million between Facebook and about 10,000 moderators who claimed that the company refused to protect them against the psychological effects of getting exposed to graphic contents they moderate.

The suit filed in Kenya was on behalf of Daniel Motaung, who was recruited by Sama in 2019 to work as moderator for Facebook. Motaung claimed that the first video he remembers moderating was one where a human was beheaded.

Motaung claimed he was not duly briefed about the nature of the work and posts he would be moderating. He added that the graphic contents he had to review kept piling up.

“I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I am living …a horror movie.”

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Speaking on behalf of Motaung, his lawyer, Mercy Mutemi said that both Meta and Sama run a platform where workers were not given the same protections as those in other countries.

If in Dublin, people can’t look at harmful content for two hours, that should be the rule everywhere. If they need to have a psychologist on call that should apply everywhere,” Mutemi said.

Motaung said he tried setting up a union shortly after joining the workforce, so he could advocate for the mental health of over 200 workers. He was fired soon after. His lawyer said he was fired due to his attempt to form a union, stating that unionization is enshrined in the constitution of Kenya.

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