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Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

In a recent development, settlement talks have collapsed in a case where 184 Nairobi-based Facebook moderators sued Meta, the platform’s owner, for alleged unfair layoffs due to union organization. The moderators, who were responsible for filtering violent and graphic content, were laid off by Sama, a local subcontractor. Despite claims by Sama that they have no opposition to unionization, the moderators believe they were retaliated against for complaints about working conditions. These allegations shed light on the challenging nature of the moderators’ work, with some encountering distressing content on a daily basis, such as a video depicting a man’s suicide. As the legal battle continues, the judge urged both parties to engage in serious discussions. This setback comes after Meta’s plans to work with a new outsourcing firm, Majorel, were halted due to a court order resulting from the ongoing case. The repercussions of this case highlight the complexities and controversies surrounding content moderation on social media platforms.

Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

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Background

In recent news, settlement talks between Facebook moderators and the platform’s owner Meta have collapsed in a long-running case centered around redundancies in Kenya. The case involves 184 Nairobi-based moderators who allege that they were laid off in retaliation for organizing a union. These moderators were employed by Sama, a local subcontractor, and the outsourcing firm Majorel. The case sheds light on the use of artificial intelligence and human workers in content moderation on Facebook.

Moderators allege retaliation for union organizing

The moderators claim that they were laid off as a form of retaliation for their efforts in union organizing. They have expressed concerns regarding their working conditions and the formation of a union. Sama, the subcontractor employing the moderators, has stated that they have no opposition to unionization. However, 260 moderators were eventually laid off by Sama.

Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

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Moderators demand rights and fair treatment

Among their demands, the moderators are seeking the right to join a union and the ability to speak out about their working conditions. They allege that Majorel, the contractor responsible for taking on the African moderation work after Sama, unfairly refused to provide them with work. By demanding these rights and fair treatment, the moderators are aiming to improve their working conditions and protect their rights as employees.

Meta’s work with Majorel canceled

Due to a recent court order resulting from the legal action, Meta’s planned content moderation work with Majorel in Kenya has been canceled. The court order prohibited Meta from commencing any content moderation work with other contractors while the legal action is ongoing. Meta has expressed its commitment to Africa and its content review work in local languages, but it is now exploring alternative options with partner organizations present on the continent.

Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

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Legal case to continue

With the breakdown of settlement talks, the legal case will proceed. The judge presiding over the case has encouraged all parties to engage in serious discussions before the next hearing, scheduled for 31 October. Despite the ongoing legal action, the moderators’ lawyers accused Meta of lacking commitment to the negotiations. They expressed a willingness to continue if Meta demonstrates serious engagement.

Parties urged to engage seriously

The judge emphasized the importance of serious engagement between the parties involved. Prompted by the breakdown of settlement talks, the judge encouraged both Meta and the moderators to approach the case with a dedicated commitment to finding a resolution. The next hearing, set for 31 October, provides an opportunity for further discussions and progress towards a potential resolution.

Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

This image is property of ichef.bbci.co.uk.

Meta accused of lack of commitment

Lawyers representing the moderators have accused Meta of not demonstrating a sufficient commitment to the negotiation process. They have expressed a willingness to continue the discussions if Meta exhibits a more serious and dedicated approach. The moderators’ lawyers believe that Meta’s commitment is crucial in order to reach a satisfactory resolution for all parties involved.

Campaign group Foxglove criticizes Meta

Foxglove, a campaign group supporting the litigation, has openly criticized Meta for what they perceive as timewasting and forcing the case back to court. Martha Dark of Foxglove expressed disappointment in Meta’s actions, indicating that their perceived lack of commitment to settling the case through negotiations has led to further legal proceedings. Foxglove aims to advocate for the moderators’ rights and ensure a fair outcome for them.

Settlement talks collapse in Kenya Facebook redundancies case

This image is property of ichef.bbci.co.uk.

Other legal challenges faced by Meta in Kenya

In addition to the Facebook redundancies case, Meta is facing additional legal challenges in Kenya. In one case, Meta could be sued over allegations of poor working conditions brought forth by an ex-moderator named Daniel Motaung. Furthermore, Meta is also facing legal action in Nairobi related to allegations that their algorithm contributed to the spread of hate and violence during Ethiopia’s civil war. These legal challenges further highlight the scrutiny faced by Meta in the region.

In conclusion, the collapse of settlement talks in the Facebook redundancies case in Kenya has led to the continuation of the legal proceedings. Moderators have alleged retaliation for union organizing and are demanding their rights and fair treatment. Meta’s work with Majorel has been canceled due to the court order resulting from the ongoing legal action. Both parties have been urged to engage seriously and find a resolution before the upcoming hearing. Meta has been criticized for their perceived lack of commitment by campaign group Foxglove. Additionally, Meta faces other legal challenges in Kenya related to working conditions and allegations of algorithmic contribution to hate and violence.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-66741637?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA