A court in Nairobi has issued an order prohibiting Meta, the parent company of Facebook, from firing its content moderators while a lawsuit challenging their proposed dismissal is being determined, according to BBC News. The suit alleges that the social media giant directed its new content moderation partner, Majorel, to blacklist the moderators. These former employees are also suing their former employer, Sama, alleging they were unfairly dismissed, TechCabal Daily reports. Meta, which includes Instagram and WhatsApp, has pledged to cut its workforce by nearly a quarter in less than six months, a sign of the tech sector’s difficulties, according to africanews.
The content moderators are reportedly suing Meta and two outsourcing companies, Majorel and Sama, with a tech rights group stating that a total of 43 workers who moderated Facebook content for Sama are bringing the lawsuit for what they allege was “unlawful dismissal” under Kenyan law. They are also filing a constitutional petition in Kenya’s Employment and Labour Relations Court against Facebook, Sama, and Majorel, alleging that retaliating against employees who are seeking better working conditions is unlawful discrimination, according to TIME.
In January 2023, 260 content moderators at Facebook’s moderation hub in Nairobi were reportedly informed they would be made redundant by Sama, the outsourcing firm that has run the office since 2019. The moderators informed the court that they received “varying and confusing” explanations for their redundancy. Meta and Sama have been given a week to respond to the application, with the case set to be heard on 28 March.
In December 2022, a Kenyan NGO and two Ethiopian citizens filed a complaint in Kenya against Meta, accusing the platform of not doing enough to combat online hate and demanding the creation of a $1.6 billion fund to compensate victims. After experiencing exponential growth since its inception, Facebook, which became Meta at the end of 2021, has been struggling with a slowdown in online advertising since last year.
The case in Nairobi highlights the importance of fair labor practices and highlights the potential for social media platforms to face legal repercussions for their treatment of employees. The lawsuit also underlines the need for platforms to take responsibility for their content moderation practices and ensure they adhere to local labor laws. As the tech industry continues to evolve and grow, it will be crucial for companies to prioritize the rights and well-being of their workers.