A former employee of social media giant Facebook has sued the California-based company for allegations of poor working conditions at its Nairobi moderation centre.
In a case filed in a Kenyan court, Daniel Motaung who worked as a content moderator, sued Facebook and Sama, a San Francisco subcontractor responsible for the Nairobi hub. The case against Facebook was filed by Foxglove, a London-based legal nonprofit that supports Facebook content moderators.
The petition “calls upon Kenya’s courts to order Facebook and its outsourcing companies to end exploitation in its Nairobi moderation hub, where content moderators work in dangerous conditions,”
Motaung was laid off from the company in 2019 for allegedly attempting to unionize workers and demanding better working conditions.
When Motaung arrived for work in Nairobi from South Africa, the first task he worked on was a video of someone being beheaded. He told reporters on Tuesday. He worked at the centre for roughly six months before being laid off after trying to raise his voice against the toxic work environment.
“When I went to Kenya, I went to Kenya because I wanted to change my life. I wanted to change the life of my family. I came out a different person, a person who has been destroyed.”
The allegations levelled against Facebook include deceptive hiring processes done using “misleading job ads.” According to the court papers, the pay that Motaung received was less than promised. His monthly paycheck was about $350 or Ksh.40,000.
The subcontractors, the lawsuit says, target needy people from poor backgrounds across Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and other countries in the region.
Mercy Mucemi from Nzuli and Nsumbi advocates told the court that they, “found a lot of Africans were forced into forced labor situations and human trafficking. When you leave your country for a job that you didn’t apply for, that amounts to human trafficking.”
The lawsuit hopes to deliver financial compensation on behalf of current and former moderators. It also seeks to have Meta, Facebook’s parent company and Sama, the subcontractor, compelled to allow unionization.