Content Moderation in Africa in Limbo as Meta Moderators Protest Court Restrictions

Meta has been restrained from offering moderation services to the social media giant, and it is unclear who is currently reviewing its platforms in sub-Saharan Africa. This lack of oversight could have a chilling effect on free speech and open discussion in the region. The moderators who screen posts for hate, misinformation and violence are essential for ensuring that social media sites function effectively as communication tools.

The Kenyan court decided to implement interim injunctions barring Meta from working with its new moderation partner, Majorel. The injunction is reserved for Sama, the outgoing subcontractor. It is not clear what Meta’s next steps will be in light of this court order.

One possible reason for Sama’s decision to go on paid leave and discontinue content moderation may have been the court’s decision earlier in the year to block it from laying off over 200 content moderators. This move would have essentially left Sama with little room to concentrate on its core business, labeling work.

The moderators of the r/forex subreddit claim that they were illegally fired and blacklisted by MetaBank and Majorel, causing them to lose their jobs. The moderators allege that MetaBank employees manipulated the voting system to remove their posts and ban them from the subreddit, while Majorel refused to give a reason for blacklisting them. The emergency petition filed by the moderators claimed that these actions amounted to wrongful firing and blacklisting, which was upheld on Thursday.

According to sourcesclose to Sama, the moderator contract expiration and Meta’s contract ending could mean that some changes are coming to the comment sections of the brands’ online content. Moderators who have been with Sama for a while may find themselves out of a job soon, but new moderators will likely be brought on board to keep things running smoothly.

Sama is Majorel’s replacement. The court directed Sama to serve as Meta’s sole content review provider until the case was heard. However, because they are both from sub-Saharan Africa, the court also barred Sama from engaging any other party to provide sub-Saharan Africa with content review. This leaves Meta heavily reliant on their new provider and raises question marks about their ability to adequately carry out their duties given the heightened scrutiny that accompanies such a high profile case.

This court orderrestrains Meta from contracting or employing moderators who work for the Eastern and Southern African region through the 4th respondent (Majorel) or any other agent, partner, or representative. This means that Meta will not be able to use Majorel’s moderators to do the work currently being done by the moderators engaged through Sama until the hearing of this application is complete.

Meta’s decision to ban Majorel could have a serious impact on the livelihoods of 200 people who work as moderators for the platform. The order threatens the business continuity of Majorel, which relies on content review services to stay afloat. If Meta is successful in its legal battle against Majorel, it could limit competition across online platforms and hurt the economic viability of small businesses like Majorel.

Reports have suggested that the Majorel investment may not be as profitable as originally thought, due to the interim orders issued by the court. If this is true, it could mean that the company’s revenue is at risk and may be lost. As a result, Majorel has requested that these orders be removed so that their investments can still be recovered.

Meta is the website that hosts Sama’s forums. The contract between them ended, and as a result, Sama was having to spend a lot of money on retaining its moderators who had no job security.

Meta has engaged other providers, stoking contempt of court claims by the petitioners. It is not immediately clear who the other subcontractors are, but a Meta spokesperson told TechGround it is working with “global partners.” This could mean that Meta is outsourcing its work to large companies and organizations outside of Hungary, stirring up suspicion among the petitioners.

If the African “global partners” are to effectively screen content and ensure that it is compliant with guidelines set forth by Facebook, they will need individuals with extensive language skills. This was evident when Sama and Majorel hired moderators from across the continent, including from Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, and South Africa.

The case of Meta against Kenya is only one example of how lack of personnel with an understanding of local languages and context can lead to dangerous content on the internet. This problem is already the basis for another case, in which Meta is accused of fueling the Tigray war that led to deaths over half a million people. In order to ensure that its content is not harmful,Meta will need a more diverse group of moderators who are well-versed in both local languages and regional contexts.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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