The claim came from a former content moderator of Meta who was laid off by the company in 2019.
Exploitation and Union Busting! – Meta faces charges in Kenya. A suit was filed earlier today against the US-based social media giant, Meta, and its main contractor in Africa, Sama, on account of content moderation in the African continent. Meta has been charged with union-busting and exploitation.
The claim came from Daniel Motaung, a former content moderator of Meta who was laid off by the company in 2019. He was a whistleblower of Facebook in the region. The company laid him off after the striking incident of employees trying to unionize the employees of the subcontracting company on basis of forced labor and human trafficking for forced labor. These charges were presented forth by the legal firm representing Motaung.
Sama and Meta are facing charges over unfair and unsafe working conditions if they are unable to meet the 12 demands brought forth to them. The legal firm has stated in the application that Sama also conducted a “deceptive recruitment process” by displaying vacancies that did not mention the job nature that require applicants would do. At the Nairobi hub, the moderators are employed or better said sourced from various countries including Uganda, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Daniel Motaung himself is from South Africa.
The varying and deceptive job descriptions (agents, call center agents, and content moderators) for the said position are curated in a way that tricks unsuspecting job applicants into becoming content moderators of Facebook. It was also reported that the content moderators were treated unfairly against the international labor laws and were not given enough support for mental health. The plea stated that Sama allows a toxic work environment to prevail and prevented the moderators from sharing their job nature and working experiences at Sama with any other third party, which included Meta employees as well.
The respondents from Meta and Sama have knowingly curated a toxic working environment at their office in Nairobi. According to the law firm, the environment and conditions are designed to keep the content moderators from airing out any grievances. The moderators examine the social media posts on all of its platforms, including Facebook, to remove any information that perpetuates hate or perpetrating, any misinformation and violent and abusive content. The firm reported that the productivity of Sama employees is monitored using Meta’s software – by measuring employee screen time and his movements during the working hours.
One person has filed this suit on behalf of a group of people, seeking financial compensation and an order that the outsourced moderator receives the same health care and pay compensations as Meta employees and demands that the unionization rights stay protected and establishment of an independent human rights office in the company.
The management of Sama has refused to make any comments before seeing the lawsuit itself. But the company has previously rejected any such claims accusing that its employees are unfairly paid, the deceptive hiring process, or that its mental health benefits are insufficient.
The entire lawsuit demands an action that is more materialized and wide-ranging than what has been offered in similar previous cases and that the results resonate beyond Kenya.