Kenya: Content moderator sues Meta over working conditions

The petition, also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company, Sama, claims that workers moderating Facebook posts in Kenya have been subjected to unreasonable working conditions, including irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, breakup of trade unions and violations of their privacy and dignity.

The lawsuit, brought by a person on behalf of a group, calls for financial compensation, an order that outsourced moderators have the same health care and pay scale as Meta employees, that union rights are protected and independent control over human rights of the office.

A Meta spokesperson told Reuters: “We take our responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously and require our partners to provide industry-leading compensation, benefits and support. We also encourage content reviewers to lift. problems when they become aware of them and “conduct regular independent audits to ensure our partners meet the high standards we expect.”

Sama declined to comment before seeing the lawsuit, but previously dismissed claims that her employees were being paid unfairly, that the hiring process was opaque, or that her mental health benefits were inadequate.

The specific requests for action of the lawsuit are more granular and far-reaching than those sought in previous cases and could reverberate beyond Kenya.

“This could have ripple effects. Facebook will have to reveal a lot about how they run their moderation operation,” said Odanga Madung, a colleague of the Mozilla Foundation, a US-based global nonprofit dedicated to Internet rights. .

Globally, thousands of moderators review social media posts that may represent violence, nudity, racism or other offensive content. Many work for third-party contractors rather than technology companies.

Meta has already dealt with checking the working conditions of content moderators.

Last year, a California judge approved an $ 85 million settlement between Facebook and more than 10,000 content moderators who accused the company of failing to protect them from psychological harm resulting from their exposure to graphic and violent images.

Facebook has not admitted to the irregularities in the California case, but has agreed to take steps to provide its moderators with content, which are employed by third-party providers, safer working environments.

Violent videos

The Kenyan lawsuit was filed on behalf of Daniel Motaung, who was recruited in 2019 from South Africa to work for Sama in Nairobi. Motaung says he was not given details about the nature of Facebook post review work prior to his arrival.

The first video Motaung remembers moderating was a beheading. The disturbing content piled up, but Motaung says his pay and mental health support were inadequate.

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“I was diagnosed with severe PTSD (PTSD),” Motaung told Reuters. “I’m living … a horror movie.”

Motaung’s lawyers said Meta and Sama created a dangerous and degrading environment in which workers did not receive the same protections as employees in other countries.

“If in Dublin, people can’t watch malicious content for two hours, that should be the rule everywhere,” Motaung lawyer Mercy Mutemi said. “If they need a psychologist on hand, that should apply everywhere.”

Shortly after joining Sama, Motaung tried to form a union to defend the company’s approximately 200 workers in Nairobi.

He was fired soon after, which he and his lawyers say was due to the union attempt. Trade union rights are enshrined in the Kenyan constitution.

Sama did not comment on this allegation.

Motaung’s experience was first revealed in a survey published by Time magazine in February.