The content moderators suing Meta and its Kenya-based content moderation partners allege that they were unfairly terminated by Sama, whose contract with Meta comes to an end this month. They are also contesting alleged discrimination by Meta’s new content moderation partner, Majorel, who they claim has blacklisted all of Sama’s previous employees. While there is no clear answer as to why this dispute has arisen, it could have serious implications for the future of online media in Kenya if the moderators are successful in their lawsuit.
The moderators allege that Sama dismissed them in an unlawful manner, claiming that no redundancy notices were issued. They also claim, among other issues, that they were not issued with a 30-day termination notice as is required by Kenyan law and their terminal dues were hinged on their signing of non-disclosure documents. If these allegations are true, it could suggest that Sama was trying to avoid paying the moderators their full salaries.
Meta claims that it has instructed its new Luxembourg-based partner, Majorel, to blacklist content moderators that previously worked at Sama. The move is likely aimed at punishing the 3rd Respondent for its role in infringing Meta’s copyrights. However, given Majorel’s previous involvement with Sama, it remains to be seen whether this tactic will have any meaningful impact on the site’s infringement activities.
One of the main concerns raised by the affected moderators is that they may not be able to find employment in their home countries once their contracts with Sama expire in March. If they are unable to secure employment elsewhere, some of them may be forced to leave Kenya.
Foxglove is protesting what they say is a union-busting operation masquerading as a mass redundancy. The company is claiming that it cannot just switch suppliers and tell recruiters not to hire the affected workers because they are “troublemakers.” This, according to Foxglove, represents an attack on employee rights and constitutes a form of unfair dismissal.
Meta has faced criticism in recent years for its content review services, which are outsourced to contract workers. Following a lawsuit filed by Daniel Motaung in 2022, Meta decided to discontinue its contract services and focus on labeling work instead.
Motuang’s accusations forced Sama and Meta to defend themselves. They claimed Motuang was laid off because he unionized the employees and was trying to take their livelihood away. Additionally, they argued that Motuang had not provided them with adequate mental health and psychosocial support in the past, which could have contributed to his anger towards them. Ultimately, the two companies were able to resolve their dispute without much damage done.
The case of the Meta suit highlights the importance of social media platforms in fueling conflict in Africa. Facebook has been accused of failing to employ enough safety measures on their platform, which has led to deaths and 500,000 Ethiopians during the Tigray War that ended late last year. The suit is likely to reignite debates about whether social media platforms should be regulated or left unregulated.
The lawsuit claims that Facebook amplified hateful content and failed to hire enough personnel with an understanding of local languages to moderate content. In particular, the plaintiffs allege that hate speech was rampant in certain sections of the social media site, specifically Indonesia, where Facebook has a large user base. The suit alleges that Facebook failed to take proper steps to screen and remove hate speech from its site despite knowing about it for years.