About 200 African content moderators are being laid off by Sama, Meta’s Kenyan subcontractor. This comes after Facebook’s parent company Meta declined to renew Sama’s contract, which expires at the end of March. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)
About 200 African content moderators are being laid off by Sama, Meta’s Kenyan subcontractor. This comes after Facebook’s parent company Meta declined to renew Sama’s contract, which expires at the end of March.
Moderators — who have been exposed to the very worst content on Facebook, including graphic violence, suicide and child pornography — will each receive 15 days of pay for each year they worked with Sama.
They will be flown out of Nairobi to their home countries after 31 March. This package is far smaller than what Facebook offered the 11 000 direct employees it laid off last year.
US-based staff were offered 16 weeks of pay across the board, and an extra two weeks of pay for every year served. The moderators learnt of the terms of their termination in a meeting on Wednesday last week.
They had feared for their jobs since May last year, when both Sama and Meta were sued by former moderator-turned whistleblower Daniel Motaung, who accused the companies of labour rights violations, including union busting and exploitation.
The case is still under way. When Motaung first went public, within Sama’s operation “everybody was scared”, one moderator said this week, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Sama management clearly wanted to know who was speaking to journalists.”
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We respect Sama’s decision to exit the content review services it provides,” adding that Meta will work with its partners to continue content moderation during the transition.
Sama said that in addition to the severance pay and flights home, laid-off staff would also receive “one year of wellness benefits” and all other bonuses and holiday pay due to them through their last work day.
Additionally, “those who work through the end of their contract will receive an ex-gratia bonus equal to 30 days pay”, although it was not immediately clear who this might apply to. It also said the end of the contract was not connected to Motaung’s lawsuit.
This article first appeared in The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper produced in partnership with the Mail & Guardian. It’s designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here.