Spanish BPO firm Majorel is set to lay off 200 of its 1,200 employees in Kenya after its contract to provide content moderation services to social media giant Meta became embroiled in a legal battle in the country.
According to Majorel, the layoffs were forced by a Kenyan court order which bars it from continuing with “a particular client contract”. Previous reporting by Techcabal points to that client being Meta.
Kenya's Court of Appeal told Facebook @Meta yesterday that the fact an entity may be a foreign company does not necessarily mean it is not subject to the (constitution &) jurisdiction of Kenyan courts.
— waikwa (@waikwawanyoike) July 29, 2023
Majorel’s trouble stems from Meta’s estranged relationship with another service provider, Sama. Sama had previously been providing content moderation services to Meta, but it ended the contract after employees complained of the heavy toll the job was taking on their mental health.
Some of Sama’s former employees went to court after they were dismissed. Although Majorel took over the contract from Sama, a court prevented it from continuing the service.
The lawsuit claims that Sama and Meta violated the moderators’ labor rights. There are also reports that Majorel rejected applications from former Sama employees.
Moderators play an essential role in the operation of social media platforms. They monitor all content posted, removing illegal and offensive posts before it is widely distributed in the network. However, they are often paid low wages and given few benefits.
The layoffs at Majorel and the legal challenges faced by several industry players are a sign of the problems faced by the content moderation industry. While some companies have opted out of the segment, others seem to be doubling down their bets.