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HomeNewsMeta/Facebook ends East Africa content moderation partnership with Sama

Meta/Facebook ends East Africa content moderation partnership with Sama

Luxembourg-based Majorel expected to take over Meta's content moderation business in the region from Sama

Meta, the mother company to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is in the market for a new content reviewer, expected to be unveiled next month, after the end of a partnership with Sama, a company based in East Africa (with offices in Nairobi and Kampala), that has been responsible for its content moderation efforts at least over the last 3 years.

“We respect Sama’s decision to exit the content review services it provides to social media platforms. We’ll work with our partners during this transition to ensure there’s no impact on our ability to review content,” Meta is quoted saying in a statement to the Financial Times.

Sama, it is said, got into a contract with Facebook’s parent company back in 2017 to offer the AI-labelling services that it has been known for. Later on, the terms of engagement were varied to include content moderation. This led to the company’s employees sifting through graphic and disturbing content posted on Facebook and other Meta platforms with the aim of reining in abuse of the said platforms by malicious users and bad actors.

Sama staff were reportedly told that the company would shift back to its AI labelling business, where Meta is still staying on as a client.

The move is said to affect the jobs of about 200 staff at Sama who are being let go.

Hit with failing revenues as a result of various factors chief among them being slowed growth of digital advertising and increased competition from rivals like TikTok, Meta has been downsizing with fresh hires in its London hub having their offers withdrawn and an earlier announcement of 11,000 staff being let go still fresh in the minds of many.

The company hires about 15,000 content moderators around the world.

The coming to light of news of the end of Meta’s partnership with Sama on content moderation comes almost a year to the day when a Time report exposed the conditions under which the moderators at Sama’s Nairobi office worked. This resulted in a court case that saw employees sue Sama for, among others, the lack of psychosocial and mental health concerns being addressed.

Majorel, a Luxembourg-based company with a local subsidiary, is said to be taking over Sama’s content moderation business at Meta. The firm has been actively recruiting over the last few weeks in the lead-up to the expiry of Sama’s contract with Meta in March.

In December, Meta was hit with a lawsuit in Kenya by the advocacy group Katiba Institute and two researchers for an alleged failure in its content moderation that resulted in the spread of hate and violence in Ethiopia during the Tigray War. The petitioners of the suit seek to, among others, have Meta compelled to hire enough content moderators who will prevent the said occurrences from happening again.

 

Photo: The Conversation

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