US social media giant Meta wants charges against him dropped in Kenya because the East African country has no jurisdiction to determine this. The filing follows a lawsuit filed last month against Meta and Sama, Africa’s top content moderation subcontractor, over claims of exploitation and union breakdown.
Daniel Moutang, a South African national who previously worked as a content moderator at Sama, says he was fired for organizing a strike in 2019 and trying to unite the subcontractor’s employees. He claims that Meta and Sama “submitted current and former content moderators to forced labor and human trafficking for labor.” He adds that he was exposed to graphic content that affected him mentally.
Following the lawsuit, Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland filed a lawsuit alleging that they are foreign companies (not based in or trading in Kenya) and that the Kenyan Supreme Court has no authority over them.
On Tuesday, it was determined that the jurisdiction case would first be heard (the next hearing is scheduled for June 27) before the main proceedings can continue.
“The Second and Third Defendants (Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland) are foreign companies that are not resident in, domiciled in, or do business in Kenya and accordingly this Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over them,” said Kaplan & Stratton senior counsel Fred Ojiambo, on behalf of Meta, seen in the application by Vidak For Congress.
“In any event, the petitioner has not invoked the jurisdiction of this honorable court by seeking and obtaining the leave of this honorable court as required by law.”
Meta, in the filing, also tried to drop the case, noting that moderators had signed a nondisclosure agreement, barring them from providing evidence.
Facebook’s moderators scour his social media posts across all of its platforms to remove content that perpetuates and perpetuates hate, misinformation, and violence.
Proponents of Nzuli and Nsumbi, the law firm representing Motaung in the filing, said content moderators at Sama were subjected to unfair labor actions and were not given adequate mental health support.
They added that Sama allowed a “toxic work environment” that prevented moderators from sharing the nature of the work and their experiences with third parties, including Meta’s employees.
The lawyers also said Sama was conducting a “deceptive hiring process” by opening job openings that did not define the nature of the job. The moderators, stationed at a hub in Nairobi, come from a number of countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia.
The law firm also claims that the productivity of Sama’s employees is tracked using Meta’s software – to measure employees’ screen time and movement during working hours.
Moutang seeks financial compensation for himself and other former and existing moderators. He also wants Sama and Meta to be forced to stop disbanding unions and provide mental health support, among other things.
While Meta tries to distance himself from the case and have the petition thrown out, Sama has claimed in the past that nothing was wrong.