According to Glassdoor, Facebook has ranked as the best place to work in the United States and other parts of the world for many years. However, when they spoke to employees, they described the company’s corporate culture as the most important factor in its development.
The Glassdoor algorithm is based on reviews and ratings left by employees over a 12-month period and showed a decline in Facebook’s ranking in 2022.
In the 2022 report, Facebook moved down the pecking order, with chipmaker Nvidia, Hubspot, and Bain & Co, all ranking above the social media giants. All three companies topped the list with a score of 4.6 out of 5.
Recent news from Kenya appears to be a confirmation to the reports by Glassdoor, which indicates that Facebook is dropping its standards in employee management.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Daniel Motaung, who is representing a group of other African workers. Motaung was recruited in 2019 from South Africa to work in Nairobi. Motaung says he was not given details about the nature of the work reviewing Facebook posts before his arrival.
The petition, also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company Sama, alleges that African workers are subjected to unreasonable working conditions. They claim that these include irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, union-busting, and violations of their privacy and dignity.
The lawsuit seeks financial compensation, an order that outsourced moderators have the same health care and pay scale as Meta employees, that unionization rights be protected, and an independent human rights audit of the office.
Speaking to Reuters, a spokesperson for Meta – the parent company of Facebook, said: “We take our responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously and require our partners to provide industry-leading pay, benefits and support. We also encourage content reviewers to raise issues when they become aware of them and regularly conduct independent audits to ensure our partners are meeting the high standards we expect.”
However, Sama declined to comment before seeing the lawsuit but has previously rejected claims that its employees were paid unfairly, that the recruitment process was opaque, or that its mental health benefits were inadequate.
The lawsuit’s specific requests for action are more granular and wide-ranging than those sought in previous cases and could reverberate beyond Kenya.
“This could have ripple effects. Facebook is going to have to reveal a lot about how they run their moderation operation,” said Odanga Madung, a fellow at the Mozilla Foundation, a U.S.-based global nonprofit dedicated to internet rights.
This is not the first time workers have filed a lawsuit against Facebook. In 2021, a California judge approved an $85 million settlement between Facebook and more than 10,000 content moderators who had accused the company of failing to protect them from psychological injuries resulting from their exposure to graphic and violent imagery.
Facebook did not admit wrongdoing in the California case but agreed to take measures to provide its content moderators, who are employed by third-party vendors, with safer work environments.
Daniel Motaung claims that Africans are among the highest set of employees recruited for the position of moderators. He said he was not duly briefed on his job details at the time of his employment by Facebook.
The first video Motaung remembers moderating was a beheading. The disturbing content piled up, but Motaung says his pay and mental health support were inadequate.
“I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Motaung told Reuters. “I am living ...a horror movie.”
Motaung’s lawyers said that Meta and Sama created a dangerous and degrading environment where workers were not given the same protections as employees in other countries.
“If in Dublin, people can’t look at harmful content for two hours, that should be the rule everywhere,” Motaung’s lawyer Mercy Mutemi said. “If they need to have a psychologist on call that should apply everywhere.”
Shortly after joining Sama, Motaung tried to form a union to advocate for the company’s roughly 200 workers in Nairobi.
He was fired soon after, which he and his lawyers say was because of the unionization attempt. Union rights are enshrined in the Kenyan constitution.
Many critics have argued that even though they are not in the best position to judge the working conditions and pay in Facebook, firing Motaung because of Unionism is wrong. They claim that it goes a long way to authenticate the accusations of the employee.
They have advised the government and other authorities to look into the matter and take cogent steps to ensure that the rights of African workers are protected. What are your thoughts?