A lawsuit in Kenya is going ahead against Meta Platforms, alleging unsafe working conditions in a Facebook moderation hub there.

Daniel Motaung, a South African man, was relocated to Nairobi, the capitol of Kenya, to work for Facebook in 2019. He worked in a content moderation hub, reviewing flagged content to decide if it did or didn’t violate Facebook’s policies.

According to Motaung, he answered an advertisement for the job that did not tell him his primary responsibility would be to review highly disturbing content. On his arrival in Kenya after being offered a position, he was told to sign a non-disclosure agreement, payed less than half of what was promised, as little as 350 USD a month. Having just dug deeply into his savings to move 2300 miles for the opportunity, he was over a barrel – he had to take the job offer despite the change in terms.

And once he was hired, the very first video he was tasked to review showed a man being graphically beheaded. It never got easier.

“I had potential,” Motaung said. “When I went to Kenya, I went to Kenya because I wanted to change my life. I wanted to change the life of my family. I came out a different person, a person who has been destroyed.”

The lawsuit in Kenya, filed on Motaung’s behalf by Foxglove, a nonprofit legal firm specifically supporting Facebook content moderators, calls Facebook’s recruitment practices deceitful to the extent they could be considered human trafficking.

“We found a lot of Africans were forced [by relocating and misleading job ads] into labor situations and human trafficking. When you leave your country for a job that you didn’t apply for, that amounts to human trafficking,” said Mercy Mutemi, the lawyer who filed the petition in court on Tuesday. The suit seeks to make Facebook advertise honestly in the poorest parts of Africa, to offer enough health care coverage to allow moderators to seek mental health treatment, and to allow unionization in moderation hubs.

Photo: Shutterstock