Meta sued in Kenya for exploitation after claims of human trafficking

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Facebook parent company Meta has yet another lawsuit on its hands. The social media and Metaverse conglomerate is frequently taken to court over data harvesting or antitrust allegations. However, this time, the Zuckerberg-owned company is being sued over claims of exploitation and human trafficking.

Meta sued in Kenya for exploitation

Via TIME, former Facebook content moderator Daniel Motaung filed a lawsuit against the company over exploitation of human rights. Motaung claims that the social media company also filed a suit against Sama, the outsourcing company the Facebook parent uses to get new workers.

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Motaung was fired from Sama back in 2018. The former moderator was cut from the company alongside over 100 colleagues attempting to fight for better pay and working conditions. He was paid just $2.20 an hour; others were paid as low as $1.50. Sama claims Motaung was fired for coercing his colleagues.

After working as a Facebook content moderator, Motaung was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to having to moderate countless hours of disturbing content — including kidnappings, murders and sexual abuse of adults and children — the ex-moderator suffers from anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. A large number of his colleagues have received the same diagnoses with no support from Meta or Sama.

“It is not OK that we can be subjected to exploitation by huge corporate companies for profit,” Motaung told Time. “They come here and say that they are going to save us, only to exploit us and throw us away. I want to achieve an end to that.”

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The Human Trafficking

Motaung's lawsuit not only claims Meta’s exploitation violates the Kenyan constitution, but also that the company actively engaged in human trafficking. The lawsuit claims that Meta and Sama moved employees into Kenya under false pretenses and then forced them to work for minuscule pay.

Meta and Sama allegedly tricked employees by itself “misleading ads”. Due to these ads, dozens of employees are said to have been flown into Kenya to work a job they didn't apply for. Motaung claims that not a single job listing explained that they would be working as a content moderator, or that they would be traumatised by the content they had to moderate.

Other allegations towards the company are as follows: wage theft, “racial discrimination, psychological torture, unequal pay for equal work, and negligence by failing to provide adequate psychosocial support.” Additionally, constitutional violations “to freedom of association, freedom of expression, dignity, privacy, fair remuneration, and reasonable working conditions.”

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Meta claims it’s not to blame

Despite working for Meta social media platform Facebook, Meta claims that it’s not at fault for the state of Kenyan employees. Instead, the social media company claims that every violation is solely due to Sama.

The company claims that it was “not liable for or privy to” any of the proceedings and that “no action can therefore be brought against Meta”. However, Motaung's lawsuit argues that Sama is merely an agent of Meta fulfilling work determined by the tech giant.