BIG {TECH) PROBLEMS

Meta’s Legal Troubles In Kenya Aren’t Going Away In Potential Historic Case

By  |  February 7, 2023

Meta Platforms Inc, the parent of Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, has failed in an attempt to crush a case filed by a former Facebook content moderator in Nairobi over allegations of worker mistreatment and exploitation. However, the plaintiff was also prohibited by the court from pursuing the case elsewhere.

It had been requested by Meta that the lawsuit be dismissed by the court on the grounds that Kenya was not the appropriate venue for the trial. According to the tech giant, Daniel Motaung, a South African national employed in Nairobi, lacks standing to file a lawsuit in the local Employment and Labour Relations Court.

However, Justice Jacob Gakeri decided not to dismiss the lawsuit in which the American social network corporation is charged with neglecting its duty of providing adequate support and welfare to trauma-exposed moderators working out of the Kenyan capital.

The judge, on the other hand, determined that the petitioner should have given Meta access to the court documents and ordered him to do so in order to give the business a chance to answer the allegations made against it.

Justice Gakeri stated that the petitioner should have asked the court for permission to deliver the petition because Meta is not a Kenyan-registered corporation. The petitioner was also forbidden by the judge from discussing the case in public or on other forums.

“The orders not to prosecute the matter in other forums are still in force,” said the judge.

On March 8, the lawsuit is planned to be addressed in order to confirm compliance and receive additional instructions on how to proceed with a hearing.

The lawsuit has the potential to set a precedent since it will decide whether outsourced workers may hold major multinational internet and social media companies accountable.

As the petitioner had been hired by a third party, Samasource Kenya EPZ, who had been contracted to provide content moderation services on Facebook, Meta had contended that it shouldn’t have been sued. The global social media company had said that the lawsuit was unfit, flawed legally, and untenable.

The business claimed, through attorney Fred Ojiambo, that Meta Platforms Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland Limited, who are listed as respondents in the lawsuit, are foreign corporations and neither residents of nor doing business in Kenya.

The company was sued by Motaung, a South African national, in October of last year over alleged terrible working conditions and failure to provide for the mental wellness of employees. The suit came together after an earlier story based on investigations was published by TIME magazine highlighting a raft of questionable working conditions imposed on Facebook’s moderators — describing something of an “African sweatshop.”

The petitioner, who alleges that he was fired after questioning the working conditions, is also suing the local outsourcing agent, Sama, which has since severed ties with Meta and raised eyebrows further with a recent layoff exercise that affected workers who helped to detoxify ChatGPT; the generative AI sensation developed by OpenAI, while allegedly being poorly compensated.

Featured Image Credits: Deccan Herald

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