Rights groups are calling on Meta to stop trying to silence Daniel Motaung, a South African content moderator and whistleblower who is suing him in Kenya, along with his main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa, over union busting and exploitation.
In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, a group of more than 80 organizations and individuals, incl Francis Haugen, whistleblower and former Meta bossdemanded that the social media giant and Sama stop efforts to get a Kenyan court to issue a detention order against Motaung.
Their efforts follow a court hearing last month where Meta asked the court to stop Motaung, a South African citizen, from speaking to the media and saying publicly that it would jeopardize the court proceedings, which the court refused. The court, however, allowed Meta’s lawyers to raise contempt of court proceedings if they have any evidence of it.
Meta had previously moved to dismiss the case, saying the moderators had signed a non-disclosure agreement barring them from providing evidence against it.
“…your companies are aggressively trying to silence Daniel, as well as Foxglove, the legal NGO supporting him, with a gag order and contempt of court proceedings. Your lawyers even asked the judge to “crack the whip” against Daniel, a front-line worker who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the work he did for you that earned him only $2.20 an hour. Meta and Sama appear to prefer to silence Daniel rather than meaningfully address his allegations,” reads the letter, which was shared with TechCrunch.
Rights groups then urged Sama and Meta to support its content-moderate labor union.
“Your attorneys even asked the judge to ‘crack the whip’ against Daniel, a front-line worker who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the work he did for you that earned him only $2.20 an hour. It appears Meta and Sama prefer to silence Daniel rather than meaningfully address his allegations,” said the letter, which was signed by the Kenya Human Rights Commission, All African Students Union, Central Organization of Kenya Trade Unions, Uni Global Union, Global : Witness, Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
According to court records, Motaung, who was fired for organizing a 2019 strike and trying to unionize subcontractor workers, said his job exposed him to graphic content that had a lasting effect on his mental health. Case documents allege that Sama conducted a “fraudulent recruitment process” by posting vacancies that did not specify the nature of the work that successful applicants would do at his Nairobi centre.
The moderators, drawn from a number of countries including Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia, sift through social media posts on all its platforms, including Facebook, to weed out those who perpetrate and perpetuate hate, misinformation and violence.
Motwang is seeking financial compensation for himself and other former and current moderators, and wants Sama and Meta forced to stop union busting and provide mental health support, among other demands.