Facebook defends itself against accusations of employee mistreatment in their Nairobi office

by Wakili Liam
A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013. Facebook Inc’s mobile advertising revenue growth gained momentum in the first three months of the year as the social network sold more ads to users on smartphones and tablets, partially offsetting higher spending which weighed on profits. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Tags: SOCIETY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) – RTXZ81J

Meta, the parent company of social media giant Facebook has defended itself against accusations of employee mistreatment.

Daniel Motaung, a moderator who worked at the platform in its office in Kenya, sued Facebook last month over alleged inhumane working conditions at the company.

The social media giant responded by urging the Kenyan court to dismiss the suit.

According to the company’s legal counsel, Facebook is not domiciled in Kenya and as such, cannot be sued and tried in the country.

“In any event, the petitioner has not invoked the jurisdiction of this court by seeking and obtaining the leave of this honourable court as by law required. Unless the orders sought herein are granted, there is imminent risk of the court acting without jurisdiction,” said Senior Counsel Fred Ojiambo.

Daniel Mataung had filed the case against Facebook’s parent company Meta and Samasource Kenya EPZ ltd, Meta’s content review subcontractor in the East African country.

In the suit, he alleged that he was subjected to a ‘toxic work environment’ and exposed to harmful content that caused him extreme mental distress. He even cited examples of former colleagues who ‘suffered serious psychological injuries’ as a result of repeatedly being exposed to disturbing and violent content in the course of their work.

“Content moderation at Facebook has been found to pose a risk to workers’ mental health. Because of their repeated exposure to gruesome content such as beheadings, torture, and rape, a significant number of Facebook moderators’ contract post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” he alleged in the suit.

He also accused the company of violating his rights to privacy, forcing him to work longer hours, failure to provide adequate mental health support and irregular payment of salaries.

https://db54e5696edf88ab8eedeb2b3064c469.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html For all these troubles, Mr Mataung asked the court to compel the company to pay him for damages.

The case is slated to be heard later this month, and the plaintiff said he has about four ex. employees of the company who are willing to testify anonymously. Interestingly, Meta’s legal counsel has pointed out that content moderators at the company all signed non-disclosure agreements, and as such may not be able to testify against the company.

It is unclear, at this point, whether the court will go ahead and hear the case or dismiss it.

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