A former Facebook moderator in Kenya is suing Meta, the platform’s parent company, for human trafficking, forced labor, and union-busting.
Daniel Motaung, a former Facebook moderator whose expertise was the focus of a Time magazine piece in February, worked for Sama, a San Francisco tech-outsourcing firm that Facebook had hired to handle content moderation.
Motaung’s allegations against Meta and Sama were contained in a petition filed with Kenya’s Employment and Labor Relations Court on Tuesday, which was shared with Insider.
Motaung, who relocated from South Africa to Nairobi to work for Sama, claimed in an affidavit attached to his petition that he was not informed during the recruiting process that he would be working for Facebook or that his job would require him to watch graphic and distressing content.
Motaung has stated that as part of his profession, he was required to witness photographs and films of beheadings and child sexual abuse. According to Motaung’s plea, he has post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to Motaung’s lawsuit, job advertisements were “intended to deceive naïve applicants into unintentionally becoming Facebook Content Moderators.”
According to the lawsuit, this is considered human trafficking under Kenyan law.
In a statement given to Insider by Foxglove, a London nonprofit supporting Motaung’s case, Motaung said, “When I first applied to the advert for this job, I was straight out of university and on a mission to lift myself and my family out of poverty.”
He incorporated, “Six months later, my physical and mental health had been destroyed.”
Motaung stated that he attempted to form an employee union in response to the horrific content that moderators were forced to see, and that he was sacked as a result of his union actions. The complaint demands that Meta and Sama provide moderators with mental-health care and pay them the same wages as full-time Facebook workers.
According to pay stubs obtained by Time, Sama paid moderators the equivalent of around $2.20 per hour.
Motaung’s complaint also seeks unspecified remuneration for previous and present Kenyan content moderators. According to a Meta representative, the business will not comment on ongoing legal issues.