Sama, Facebook’s largest content moderation provider in Africa has announced it would be discontinuing its $3.9 million contract with Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
The company says that due to the economic climate, it will shut down its content moderation arm altogether. As part of the structural change, Sama will also lay off 3% (200) of its staff.
Meta also confirms Sama’s graceful exit, but some people think they are both not being honest about the reason why, because of the timing of the announcement.
The announcement comes weeks after another lawsuit accused Meta of fuelling political hate in Kenya and Ethiopia due to its insufficient moderation of harmful posts.
It is also coming less than a month before a judge is scheduled to decide whether a Nairobi court has the jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit in which Meta and Sama are embroiled.
A former content moderator, Daniel Mautang, had sued both companies for union busting and exploitation nearly a year ago, but Meta had insisted that Kenyan courts had no right to judge the case because it does not trade in Kenya.
Now, Meta has cut ties with the Nairobi-based Sama and reportedly replaced it with Majorel, a Luxembourg-based outsourcing firm, right before the court reaches a decision on that front.
Sama says it is streamlining its business operations so that it can better navigate the current economic climate.
From March 2023, it will discontinue its content moderation and natural language processing services to focus on providing computer vision annotation technology. The company says that all impacted employees will receive severance packages and “well-being support” for 12 months, after their last day of employment.