Sama, a content moderation partner of Meta in Africa, has shut down its content moderation operations and laid off 200 employees.
The company, formerly known as Samasource, will now focus on its data labeling business. According to a statement by Sama, “the current economic climate requires more efficient and streamlined business operations.”
In the statement, Sama said that it plans to “concentrate solely on our computer vision annotation technology platform and solutions,” and that it will discontinue work that is not closely aligned with this vision, including natural language processing and its content moderation business, effective March 2023. The company also stated that it will be offering severance packages and “well-being support” for 12 months after the last day of employment for all impacted employees.
In response to Sama’s decision, a Meta spokesperson confirmed the end of the contract and said that “We’ll work with our partners during this transition to ensure there’s no impact on our ability to review content.” Meta has already contracted Majorel, a Luxembourg-based outsourcing firm, to take over Sama’s contract, which is set to end in March 2023.
This move by Sama comes months after Sama and Meta were sued in Kenya over claims of exploitation and union busting, and just weeks after another lawsuit was filed in Kenya’s High Court over its alleged role in fueling violence and hate in eastern and southern Africa. The recent lawsuit claimed that Meta had failed to employ enough safety measures on Facebook, which has in turn fueled conflict that has led to deaths, including the deaths of 500,000 Ethiopians during the recently ended Tigray War.
Sama’s contract to review harmful content for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, was worth $3.9 million in 2022, according to internal Sama documents. With the current decision, the company’s main focus will now be on its computer vision annotation technology, leaving behind content moderation which was not closely related to its core business. Sama also says it will be offering support for all affected employees, with well-being and severance packages to make this transition as smooth as possible.