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Kenya: Judge Rules Meta Can be Sued by Ex-Moderator

    Kenya: Judge Rules Meta Can be Sued by Ex-Moderator
    Last updated Feb 07, 2023
    Image credit: BBC

    Facts

    • A Kenyan labor court on Monday ruled that Meta, Facebook's parent company, can be sued in the country after a former content moderator filed a lawsuit citing unsuitable working conditions.
    • Daniel Motaung, a former employee of the content moderation company Sama — which Meta contracted out to review content — claims he was paid $2.20 an hour to review posts whose content included beheadings and child abuse.
    • Motaung claims the content he was exposed to, which included rape and torture, damaged his and his colleagues' mental health. He claimed that Meta didn't offer mental health resources, demanded long hours, and paid little.
    • Meta tried to have the case — brought by UK-based legal activist firm Foxglove — dismissed by saying the court had no jurisdiction as it is neither based in nor trades in Kenya. However, the judge said the companies were "proper parties" in the case, with the court now set to convene on March 8 to discuss further hearings.
    • Motaung is also suing Sama, by whom he was recruited from South Africa to work in Nairobi, where much of the moderation for East and South Africa was handled. Sama argues that it provides all workers with competitive wages, benefits, upward mobility, and robust mental healthcare.
    • This comes as Meta faces another lawsuit filed in Kenya, particularly related to harmful content regarding the war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The company in 2021 was also sued by Rohingya refugees — who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh —for $150M for similar reasons.

    Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Meta outsources its gruesome content moderation services to faraway countries so that it doesn't have to deal with the consequences. It's high time for the tech giant to provide the workers it treated inhumanely with the same pay and mental health resources it gives to its employees in the US. Motaung was fired after trying to unionize and call for better treatment, so this isn't just about Meta utilizing the lower average wages in third-world countries.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Though the common trope is that large companies outsource to other countries to benefit from exploitive labor, the truth is that the wages being paid are almost always at or above the average wage in those nations. When compared to the alternative job opportunities outsourced workers have, it's rarely better than what a US corporation is offering.

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