Meta faces content moderator lawsuit in Kenya

STORY: A lawsuit was filed in Kenya on Tuesday (May 10) against Facebook owner Meta Platforms alleging that poor working conditions for contracted content moderators violate the Kenyan constitution.

The petition, also against Meta's local outsourcing company Sama, was filed by a former moderator.

It alleges moderators in Kenya have been subjected to conditions including irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, union busting and violations of their privacy and dignity.

A Meta spokesperson said the company takes "our responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously and require our partners to provide industry leading pay, benefits and support."

The spokesperson also said that content reviewers are encouraged to "raise issues when they become aware of them" and that independent audits are regularly conducted to "ensure our partners meet the high standards we expect".

Sama declined to comment before seeing the lawsuit.

It has previously rejected claims its employees were paid unfairly, that the recruitment process was opaque, or that its mental health benefits were inadequate.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group by Daniel Motaung - recruited in 2019 to work for Sama in Nairobi.

The first video he remembers moderating was a beheading.

As the disturbing content piled up Motaung says his pay and mental health support were inadequate.

He told Reuters that he's been diagnosed with severe PTSD and is "living in a horror movie".

At a press conference on Tuesday, Motaung’s lawyers said Meta and Sama created a dangerous and degrading environment where workers were not given the same protections as employees in other countries.

The petition seeks financial compensation, an order that outsourced moderators have the same healthcare and pay scale as Meta employees, that unionization rights be protected, and an independent human rights audit of the office.

The requests are more granular and wide-ranging than those sought in previous cases and could reverberate beyond Kenya.

Odanga Madung, a fellow at internet rights non-profit the Mozilla Foundation, said: "Facebook is going to have to reveal a lot about how they run their moderation operation".