Farukh Kitchlew | Feb 19, 2024 | 0
TikTok’s labor dilemma: Leaked memo reveals internal concerns
The globally popular social media platform, TikTok, has a leaked internal memo revealing its growing concerns about potential labor rights violations. The NGO Foxglove Legal obtained the memo. The memo indicates that TikTok is preparing for possible litigation due to its contractual arrangements with Majorel, a Luxembourg-based company. Majorel is a company that provides outsourced content moderation services in Kenya and other countries.
The Kenyan Court Ruling
The memo was made public in response to a significant judgment against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, in Kenya last month. The court deemed Meta the “true employer” of hundreds of content moderators in Nairobi, even though a third-party contractor technically employed them. This ruling suggests Meta is susceptible to lawsuits for labor rights violations in Kenya.
Meta was ruled against by Daniel Motaung, a South African moderator dismissed in 2019 for attempting to form a union. According to Motaung’s claims, his daily exposure to violent and graphic content as part of his job led him to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. He further asserts that he didn’t receive a proper job overview before relocating from South Africa to Kenya.
The Repercussions for TikTok
TikTok, which also employs outsourced moderators in Kenya and other countries, has been monitoring this case. The leaked memo suggests that TikTok fears it could be the next target for similar litigation.
The memo warns, “TikTok and its competitors could face scrutiny for real or perceived labor rights violations.”
TikTok will likely face reputational and regulatory risks for its contractual arrangement with Majorel in Kenya. Especially if the Kenyan court rules in favor of the moderators.
The Response from TikTok
Despite the gravity of the situation, TikTok has yet to respond to requests for comment. However, the leaked memo suggests that the company is considering an independent audit of Majorel’s Kenyan site to avoid further investigation by union representatives and the media.
As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how TikTok will address these labor concerns and whether it will take proactive measures to ensure the humane treatment of its outsourced workers.