According to a statement released on their behalf on Monday, a total of 43 Kenyan Facebook content moderators who were fired in January intend to file a lawsuit against the parent company of the social media giant, Meta, for unjust dismissal.
As the internet industry experiences turbulence, Meta, which also controls Instagram and WhatsApp, is aiming to reduce its personnel by almost a quarter during the next six months. Facebook, which changed its name to Meta in late 2021, is notably fighting a slowdown in online advertising.
In January, Sama, the outsourcing company that has managed the office since 2019, informed the 260 content moderators working at Facebook’s moderation hub in Nairobi, Kenya, that they will be laid off, according to the statement.
These moderators who were responsible for crucial safety work for East and South Africa lost their jobs overnight.
43 moderators at Facebook’s Nairobi moderation hub are suing the social media company and its outsourcers for dismissing the whole staff in the largest legal challenge yet to Meta’s African operations.
When AFP contacted Meta for a reaction, she declined right away.
A Kenyan NGO and two Ethiopian residents sued Meta in Kenya last December, alleging that the platform did not do enough to stop online hate speech. They also demanded the establishment of a $1.6 billion fund to compensate victims.
The lawsuit alleged that Meta used a Facebook algorithm that was likely to favor or recommend hateful and violent content in order to encourage speech that contributed to ethnic deaths and violence in Ethiopia.
The moderators claim they were fired by Sama, a Kenyan company hired to control Facebook content, for organizing a union, according to Reuters.
Additionally, they claim that after Facebook moved contractors, they were blocked from applying for the same positions at Majorel, another outsourcing company.
According to Foxglove, a technology rights organization that is backing the complaint, Sama, the outsourcing company that has administered the office since 2019, informed the 260 content moderators at Facebook’s moderation hub in Nairobi that they will be laid off in January.