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Kenyan Facebook Moderators Allege Insincere Negotiations by Meta


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The attorney representing 184 former Facebook content moderators in Kenya, who had filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, over working conditions and pay, informed the judge on Monday that Meta had not been forthright in attempting to reach an out-of-court settlement, as previously agreed in the last court session.

Lawyer Mercy Mutemi stated that the negotiations had broken down, and the former moderators now wish to pursue a contempt of court case against Meta. She emphasized the petitioners’ commitment to the mediation process, noting that they had provided requested information, but Meta’s responses had been unsatisfactory. Meta’s recent offer was described as inadequate to address the petitioners’ mental health concerns, and Meta’s actions were deemed insincere.

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These moderators were employed by Sama, a San Francisco subcontractor that positions itself as an ethical AI company, to work in Nairobi, Kenya. Their role involved reviewing user content in 12 African languages and removing any uploads that violated Facebook’s community standards and terms of service.

Some of the petitioners shared that their job required them to view disturbing content for eight hours daily, causing significant emotional distress, all while receiving a monthly salary of 60,000 Kenyan shillings (approximately $414). They accused Sama of failing to provide adequate post-traumatic professional counseling. Their claim for compensation amounts to $1.6 billion.

Meta and Sama’s legal teams stated that they believed the mediation process was progressing well until receiving a protest letter from the moderators’ attorney.

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Justice Nduma Nderi expressed disappointment over the missed opportunity for a balanced resolution and scheduled a hearing for October 31 to consider the moderators’ application to find Meta and Sama in contempt of court.

This lawsuit marks the first known legal challenge against Facebook outside the United States. In 2020, Facebook agreed to pay $52 million to U.S. content moderators who filed a class action lawsuit due to repeated exposure to disturbing content. Both Facebook and Sama have defended their employment practices.

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