Facebook’s parent Meta, alongside its main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa Sama, has been sued over claims of exploitation and union-busting. This follows less than two months after the big tech company and its subcontractor Sama got sued over claims of unfair and unsafe working conditions for employees.
It is pertinent to know that the new suit against Meta and Sama is coming from the same Daniel Moutang who filed the first suit. He was a former content moderator and was allegedly laid off after organizing a strike and trying to unionize employees in 2019. According to him, Facebook’s parent and Sama “subjected current and former content moderators to forced labor and human trafficking for labor.” He has since been tagged a Facebook whistleblower.
In the suit, the law firm defending Mr. Moutang who is South African accused Sama of indulging in deceptive recruitments. In an article we published in March, we cited that Sama mostly recruited moderators across Africa with a job description that they were taking up pay center jobs and they only get to know about the true details of their job after relocating to its hub in Nairobi and signing an irreversible employment contract. Their job is to remove Facebook users promoting misinformation, hate, and violence, against the call center job they were told about.
Daniel Moutang is seeking financial compensation and wants both Meta and Sama to desist from union-busting activities and put measures for workers’ mental health support in place. Before the case was filed before the court, lawyers from Nzili and Sumbi Advocates said that “The varying descriptions (call center agents, agent, and content moderator) for the position of a content moderator are deceptive and designed to trick unsuspecting applicants into unknowingly becoming Facebook Content Moderators. Applicants who responded to the call for ‘Agents’ were especially deceived.”
The law firm also accused Meta and Sama of purposely creating an unworkable environment that is detrimental to workers’ mental health. “The Respondents (Meta and Sama) have intentionally created a toxic environment at their Nairobi office. This is designed to keep the Facebook Content Moderators from airing their grievances,” the law firm said.
The lead counsel in the legal action, Mercy Mutemi, emphasized the emphasis of providing a good work environment for content moderators adding that with elections just around the corner, Meta and Sama need to do more for content moderators who are saddled with the responsibility of making the social space safe.
“Content moderators struggle every day to make Facebook safer for billions of people, in dangerous conditions,” said Mercy Mutemi of Nzuli and Nsumbi, also the lead counsel in the legal action. With the August elections now so close, there has never been a more important time to force Mark Zuckerberg to take responsibility for the people on the frontline of the information battle during the contest,” she said.
Meta and Sama are yet to make comments. When the first suit was filed, while Meta said that Daniel Moutang was not an employee of the company, Sama denied the accusations made against it.