Daniel Motaung, a South African national and content moderator, sued Facebook last month for alleged harsh working conditions at the company’s Nairobi office. Facebook has reacted, pushing a Kenyan court to dismiss the action.
According to the company’s legal counsel, Facebook is not based in Kenya and hence cannot be sued or tried there.
“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 Motaung filed the lawsuit against Facebook’s parent firm Meta and Samasource Kenya EPZ ltd, Meta’s East African content assessment subcontractor.
He claimed in the action that he was subjected to a “toxic work environment” and was exposed to hazardous content, which caused him great emotional suffering. He even identified previous coworkers who “suffered major psychological problems” as a result of being regularly exposed to unsettling and violent stuff 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 corporation of violating his private rights, forcing him to work longer hours, failing to offer proper mental health treatment, and paying him irregularly.
Mr Motaung urged the court to order the corporation to pay him for his troubles.
The case is set to be heard later this month, and the plaintiff stated that he has four former corporate employees who are willing to testify anonymously. Interestingly, Meta’s legal counsel has pointed out that all of the firm’s content moderators signed non-disclosure agreements, and thus may not be able to testify against the company.
At this point, it is unknown whether the court will consider the case or dismiss it.