A former moderator for Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc filed a lawsuit alleging that poor working conditions for contracted content moderators violate the Kenyan constitution.
The petition, which was also filed against Meta's local outsourcing company Sama, claims that workers moderating Facebook posts in Kenya have been subjected to unfair working conditions such as irregular pay, insufficient mental health support, union-busting, and violations of their privacy and dignity.
While working as an outsourced Facebook content moderator in Kenya, Daniel Motaung witnessed a beheading video. Viewing violent and graphic content, he claims, took him to places he never imagined.
The lawsuit, filed by a single person on behalf of a group, wants financial compensation, an order requiring that outsourced moderators receive the same health care and pay scale as Meta employees, protection of unionization rights, and independent human rights audit of the office.
The panel, titled "Facebook Content Moderation, Human Rights: Democracy and Dignity at Risk," took place on the same day that the former content moderator's attorneys filed a lawsuit against Facebook parent company Meta and Sama, the outsourcing firm that works with the social media giant for content moderation in Africa.
The companies are accused of engaging in forced labor, human smuggling, treating workers in a "degrading manner," and union-busting, according to the 52-page petition. According to the lawsuit, Motaung was fired from his job in 2019 after attempting to form a trade union.
The lawsuit, filed in Nairobi's employment and labor relations court, is the latest in a series of complaints about Meta's working conditions for content moderators. After content moderators in the U.S. sued Facebook for allegedly failing to provide a safe workplace, the company reached a $52 million settlement in 2020.
The social network, which has over 15,000 moderators, has tried hard to police offensive content in multiple languages around the world.
According to the lawsuit, Sama attacks poor and vulnerable youth for content moderation jobs, forcing them to sign employment contracts before they fully understand the role.
According to the lawsuit, content moderators are not provided with adequate mental health support, must deal with irregular pay, and are unable to discuss their struggles with family and friends because they are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Motaung, who told Time his story in February, claims Meta has delegated responsibility for worker protection to third-party companies and is exploiting people for profit.