Meta says Kenyan court has no jurisdiction to determine charges against him, wants him dismissed – TechCrunch

US social media giant Meta is seeking to have a complaint filed against it in Kenya dropped, saying the East African country lacks jurisdiction to determine this. The app follows a lawsuit filed by Daniel Motaung last month against Meta and Sama, its main contractor for content moderation in Africa, over allegations of exploitation and union busting.

Motaung, a South African national who previously worked as a content moderator at Sama, says he was fired for organizing a strike in 2019 and trying to organize the contractor’s employees. He adds that he was exposed to graphic content that affected him mentally.

Moutang is seeking financial compensation for himself and other former and existing moderators. He also wants Sama and Meta to be forced to stop breaking unions and providing mental health support, among other demands.

Following the lawsuit, Meta Platforms, Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland filed a claim arguing that they are foreign companies (not domiciled or trading in Kenya) and that the Kenyan High Court has no jurisdiction over they.

It was determined on Tuesday that the jurisdictional case will be heard first (the next hearing is set for June 27) before the main action can proceed.

“The second and third defendants (Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland) are foreign companies which are not resident, domiciled or trading in Kenya and therefore this Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over them,” said Kaplan & Stratton lead attorney Fred Ojiambo said on behalf of Meta in the application seen by TechCrunch.

“In any event, the Petitioner has not invoked the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court in seeking and obtaining leave of this Honorable Court as required by law.”

Meta, in the app, also sought to have the case dropped noting that the moderators had signed a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from providing evidence against him.

Facebook moderators are screening its social media posts on all of its platforms to remove content that incites hatred, misinformation and violence.

According to documents filed by attorneys for Nzuli and Nsumbi, the law firm representing Motaung in the petition, Sama subjected content moderators to unfair labor actions and failed to provide them with adequate mental health support. .

He added that Sama allowed a “toxic work environment”, which prevented moderators from sharing the nature of the work and their experiences with third parties, including Meta employees.

The lawyers also said Sama conducted a “deceptive recruitment process” by opening vacancies that did not define the nature of the job, claiming that Meta and Sama “subjected current and former content moderators to forced labor and trafficking in human beings for work”. The moderators, stationed at a hub in Nairobi, come from a number of countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia.

The law firm also claims that Sama’s employee productivity is tracked using Meta software – to measure screen time and employee movement during working hours.

While Meta tries to distance herself from the case and seeks to have the petition dismissed, Sama in the past has claimed no wrongdoing.

Thelma J. Longworth