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Facebook sued in Kenya over moderator working conditions – The Journal

Lawyers for a man who once worked as a content moderator for Facebook have filed a lawsuit accusing the company of abusive and unsafe working conditions

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A man who says he is “destroyed” after working as a content moderator for Facebook has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of human trafficking of Africans of working in a exploitative and dangerous in Kenya.

The case against Meta Platforms, the Menlo Park, Calif. company that owns Facebook, and Sama, a San Francisco contractor, was filed in court in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday.

Daniel Motaung’s petition “calls on Kenyan courts to order Facebook and its outsourcing companies to end exploitation at its moderation center in Nairobi, where content moderators work under unsafe conditions,” says a statement from Foxglove, a London-based nonprofit that supports Facebook content moderators. .

The first video Motaung watched as a Facebook moderator was a video of someone being beheaded, he told reporters in a call on Tuesday. He remained in the post for around six months, having moved from South Africa to Nairobi in 2019 for work. Motaung says he was fired after trying to lead efforts to unionize at the facility.

Motaung said his job was traumatic and he was now scared to death.

“I had potential,” Motaung said. “When I went to Kenya, I went to Kenya because I wanted to change my life. I wanted to change my family’s life. I came out a different person, a person who was destroyed.

Motaung says in his filing that once he arrived in Kenya for this job, he was told to sign a non-disclosure agreement and his salary was less than promised, with a monthly salary of 40,000 Kenyan shillings, or about 350 US dollars.

The lawsuit notes that Sama targets people from poor families in Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and other countries in the region with “misleading job advertisements” that do not disclose that they will work as Facebook content moderators or view disturbing content. which expose them to mental health problems.

Candidates are recruited “by deception”, said Mercy Mutemi, who filed the petition in court on Tuesday morning. “We found that many Africans were forced into forced labor situations and human trafficking. When you leave your country for a job you didn’t apply for, it amounts to human trafficking.”

Content moderators do not have sufficient medical coverage to seek mental health treatment, according to the filing.

The lawsuit also seeks to order Facebook and Sama to respect moderators’ right to unionize.

Meta’s Nairobi office said it takes its responsibility to people who review the company’s content seriously and requires its “partners to provide top-notch pay, benefits and support”, according to a statement released by the company’s spokeswoman.

“We also encourage content reviewers to raise issues when they become aware of them and to conduct regular independent audits to ensure our partners meet the high standards we expect of them,” the statement said.

In 2020, Facebook agreed to pay $52 million to US content moderators who filed a class action lawsuit after they were repeatedly exposed to beheadings, sexual and child abuse, animal cruelty, terrorism and other disturbing content.

Sama, which describes itself as an ethical AI company, did not immediately provide comment.

Sama’s Nairobi site is the largest content moderation facility in Africa, with around 240 staff working on the effort, according to the filing.

“We are not animals,” Motaung said in the statement. “We are people – and we deserve to be treated as such.”

Seitz reported from Washington.

FILE – Facebook’s Meta logo sign is seen at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, October 28, 2021. Lawyers for a man who once worked as a content moderator for Facebook have filed a lawsuit accusing the company of exploitative and unsafe working conditions. The case against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, and outsourcing company Sama was filed Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in a court in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)