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22 Sep 2022

Dell Cameron, Gizmodo (USA)

New Hearing Set in Facebook Whistleblower Case Over Kenyan Moderator 'Exploitation'

A Kenyan court has set a new date to hear submissions in a lawsuit brought against Meta and one of its outsourcing partners by a former Facebook content moderator, who accuses the companies of exploitation and union busting.

Daniel Motaung, the former moderator — heralded now internationally as a whistleblower — had filed a lawsuit in May against Meta and its Nairobi-based subcontractor, Sama, following his termination in 2019 amid an effort to unionize for better pay and working conditions.

In June, Meta’s lawyers asked the court to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that because the company is not registered in Kenya it cannot be tried there. On Thursday, justice Jacob Gakeri pushed a hearing on the matter to Oct. 25...

Motaung, who’s in his late twenties, has alleged that he and other workers at Sama were subjected to a toxic workplace environment that bred extreme mental distress...

Motaung told the court that only after he arrived in Nairobi and signed a non-disclosure agreement were the details of his job revealed: For up to nine hours a day, he and other Sama employees were bombarded with traumatizing images, asked to decide whether to leave up or take down content that entailed videos of violence and rape, including some depicting dismemberment.

Motaung reportedly assumed a leadership role among roughly 100 workers intent on petitioning Sama for better working conditions. Some employees decried a lack of promised medical insurance, others mandatory night-shifts imposed to keep pace with the avalanche of illicit content inundating Meta’s platform. Some, who like Motaung traveled from abroad, said they were offered employment under false pretenses, kept oblivious to the trauma-inducing aspects of the job until it was too late to back out — conduct that Motaung and his lawyers argue amounts to human trafficking...

Sama, reported to employ roughly 200 Meta moderators covering Sub-Saharan Africa at the time, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Meta...has previously claimed that its outsourcing partners are required to provide “industry-leading pay, benefits, and support.”...