Content Moderators in Kenya Sue Facebook, Claim They Are Subjected To Torturous Work

Content Moderators in Kenya Sue Facebook, Claim They Are Subjected To Torturous Work

Content moderators in Kenya are suing Facebook for what the say is the “torture” they’ve endured at work—being forced to sift through hours of horrifying videos and pictures to keep off the social media platform.

Nathan Nkunzimana spoke to the Associated Press in Nairobi about the lawsuit against the company and  contractor Sama for these traumatizing work conditions.

The father of three was among nearly 200 contracted workers that were outsourced in the Kenyan capital to manage Facebook users’ content input from Africa, verifying and removing any insensitive, harmful, or illegal imagery or clips from appearing on its vast network.

The former employee referred to himself and fellow staff as “soldiers” taking bullets on behalf of the online community. The cohort is following the path of their U.S. counterparts, who Facebook settled with in 2020 on similar grounds.

The moderators are seeking $1.6 billion in compensation for the lack of proper working conditions, including mental health support for the disturbing content consumed and general low wages for the work performed. According to the filing, a court order that their contracts must be extended, and therefore must be paid out, until the case is completed is being ignored, leaving the employees without pay.

While Facebook and Nama remain adamant that they had work standards above local norms, the mental health services were not adequate to handle the level of trauma endured, the moderators say. This transition from minimal care to nonexistent support has left Nkunzimana and other employees at a loss.

The expanded international employment practice is exploitative in nature, as companies outsourcing jobs to countries like Kenya expose workers to roles that are harmful, yet they continue workers stay because of the needed financial aspects.

However, change is possibly on the horizon for such an arrangement, as the Kenya-based moderators are empowered and garnering worldwide attention for their lawsuit. Their hearing in Kenya is set for July 10, 2023.

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