Former Facebook moderator Daniel Matoung has won the first round of the court battle between him and tech giant Meta Platforms Inc.
Employment and Labour Relations Court dismissed Meta’s argument that it cannot be sued in Kenya.
While agreeing with Matoung, Justice Jacob Gakeri said Matoung had proved his relationship with the American firm through the contracted Kenyan company, Samasource.
The orders by the judge now pave way for the case to proceed. In the petition, Meta wanted the court to dismiss the case arguing that Kenyan courts have no powers to hear it.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led firm’s lawyer Dr. Fred Ojiambo said his client is a foreign corporation that is neither a resident nor trades in Kenya.
“The petition against the second and third respondents be struck out and wholly dismissed as this honorable court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the petition against the second and third respondents jointly and severally,” argued Ojiambo.
Motaung in his petition detailed his employment with Samasource.
He said it is the firm contracted to clean up content depicting or exposing violence, suicide and self-injury, child sexual exploitation, abuse and nudity, adult sexual exploitation, bullying and harassment, human exploitation, and privacy violations among others.
He said those working at Samasource have reported suffering from mental breakdowns after being exposed to abusive and harmful content for long hours.
“Facebook content moderators engaged through the first respondent (Samasource) have reported experiencing insomnia, nightmares, unwanted memories of content they moderated, anxiety, depression, and emotional detachment.
“Some suffer from mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” Motaung said. Formerly known as Facebook, the technology corporation headquartered in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, California, in the US, owns and controls some of the world’s most popular social media and communications services.
Meta owns Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
The papers filed before the Labour court indicated that it is not registered in Kenya.
Motaung was hired as a Zulu-speaking moderator in 2019. He says he had been informed he would be shortlisted as a data analyst. Excited, he relocated to Kenya.
“When the petitioner began his work, he realised the job was dangerous and could harm his mental and physical health. He had no idea that he would spend his working hours looking at photos and videos of the most graphic and violent content,” Motaung lawyers said.
Meanwhile, more moderators working at the firm asked the court to protect them in a bid to testify on an alleged toxic work environment.