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17 Oct, 2023 14:48

Kenyan Meta moderators seeking $1.6bn after negotiations fail

A hearing has been scheduled over allegations of unfair dismissal and contempt of court
Kenyan Meta moderators seeking $1.6bn after negotiations fail

Dozens of former social media content moderators in Kenya will proceed with their efforts to sue Facebook parent company Meta and two subcontractors, Reuters reported on Monday. A lawyer representing the workers accused the tech giant of being insincere in efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement, following their dismissal.  

The rights group working with the former moderators also announced on Monday that negotiations over an unfair dismissal lawsuit had failed.  

The judge was informed of the move by lawyer Mercy Mutemi, who is representing 184 former Facebook content moderators from Kenya, who are suing the site’s parent company over working conditions and payments.  

“The petitioners gave it their best effort. They attended every mediation. The respondents asked for information which we gave them. They kept saying they would get back to us by a certain date but only got back to us at the end of last week with a very small amount that cannot even take care of the petitioners’ mental health,” Mutemi told the court. 

Meta and subcontractors Sama and Majorel declined to provide immediate comment. 

The role of moderators involved inspecting user content in 12 African languages and deleting uploads that were deemed to violate Facebook’s community standards and terms of service. 

According to the Associated Press, the moderators received monthly pay of 60,000 Kenyan shillings ($414) but many were left overwhelmed by watching disturbing content for eight hours a day. Sama is accused of failing to ensure that post-traumatic professional counseling was provided, with the former moderators seeking compensation of $1.6 billion.  

A hearing will be held on October 31 to discuss the moderators’ request to find Meta and Sama in contempt of court, Foxglove said. 

Earlier this year, the former moderators brought lawsuits against Meta and the two subcontractors after losing their jobs with Sama, a San Francisco subcontractor that describes itself as an ethical AI company, for initiating a union.  

According to the former staff, Facebook changed contractors and blacklisted them for the same jobs at a second firm, Majorel.  

In August, the court instructed the parties to reach an out-of-court settlement and promised to return to the case if they did not succeed. 

Meta stated last December that the rules of its Facebook and Instagram platforms prohibit hate speech and incitement to violence.