People Power forces Facebook and Sama to think again on gagging order for Daniel Motaung

If you’ve been following the case of Daniel Motaung, the ex-Facebook moderator and union leader who’s taking Facebook to court on behalf of his colleagues, you may have noticed we’ve been a little quiet lately. 

There’s a reason. A few weeks ago, as TIME magazine reports​​, lawyers for Facebook and its African outsourcing partner Sama requested a court order to stop Foxglove and Daniel from speaking publicly about Daniel’s quest for justice, including this:

“A lawyer representing Facebook’s parent company Meta called on a judge to “crack the whip” against a Black South African whistleblower on Monday, requesting a gagging order to prevent him from speaking to the media.”

Thankfully, people power forced the companies to think again. After the TIME story, a massive coalition – over 80 groups and leaders, from the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, to racial justice groups like Colour of Change, to the umbrella organisation of Kenyan trade unions – wrote to Sama and Facebook demanding they respect Daniel’s right to speak his truth and “to immediately cease your attempts to impose a gag order on Daniel, Foxglove and his legal team.” You can read their letter here​.

The companies listened. Just last week, spokespeople for both Meta and Sama told TIME​ they would back off: “We have not filed nor do we plan to file a ‘gag order’ against Daniel Motaung,” said Sama’s chief marketing officer Suzin Wold in an email. “We have not issued contempt of court proceedings against Daniel Motaung,” said Meta spokesperson Ben Walters in an email. Meta told TIME that it would not issue such proceedings in the future either.”

Here’s what Daniel said when he got the news: 

“I am deeply moved to see trade unions and rights groups around the world join our struggle. Your support is a weight off my shoulders. Thank you. Together, we will see justice done.”

This is a great result, and shows the power of people working together. Thousands of you have stood with Daniel so far – and we want to thank you, as well as the 80+ signatories to this letter. 

Foxglove has fought for moderators for years. We won’t stop until the work is safe and fair. We’re so glad so many of you are with us in this fight.