Amazon Pays Employees To Chirp Happily On Twitter About Wonderful Working Conditions

from the disinformation-nation dept

For several years now, there have been a parade of articles examining the "churn and burn" culture at Amazon. For example a 2015 New York Times piece profiled the "bruising" culture at the company while noting that employees weeping at their desk was not an uncommon sight. And while the profile was contested by some employees at the company, a substantial number of different reports have also highlighted the poor working conditions in Amazon distribution warehouses, including employees having to pee in garbage cans for fear of missing targets by going to a proper restroom.

Hoping to correct the "public perception" of poor working conditions at the company's warehouses, Amazon executives have crafted a new "solution" to the problem. They've started paying some warehouse employees to create Twitter accounts and speak positively of not only their working experiences, but CEO Jeff Bezos. Under the tags of "Amazon FC Ambassadors," these employees are broadly encouraged to respond to any criticism of Amazon with positivity and, apparently, copious use of emojis as they proudly insist they can pee any time they'd like:

Amazon is a little bit dodgy in comments to The Guardian when it comes to admitting that these employees are being paid extra to chirp happily about their wonderful working experiences at Amazon:

"An Amazon spokesman, Ty Rogers, assured the Guardian via email that these ambassadors were real employees who work in fulfillment centers, not Twitter bots. He declined to answer questions about how the accounts were created or if employees were compensated for defending the company on social media.

“FC ambassadors are employees who understand what it’s actually like to work in our FCs,” says Rogers. “The most important thing is that they’ve been here long enough to honestly share the facts based on personal experience. It’s important that we do a good job of educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfillment centers, and the FC ambassador program is a big part of that, along with the FC tours we provide."

The employees are similarly cagey about whether they're being paid extra to speak positively about the company on Twitter:

"Asked specifically about whether they were paid extra for their Twitter service, Leo, from Jacksonville, replied: “this is just another role that I have. Right now I’m tweeting from work."

In other words, yes, your employer is paying you extra to say nice things about it. You'd hope that actual improvements to working conditions have accompanied Amazon's apparent belief that this campaign of mandatory enthusiasm was a good idea.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 3:40pm

    Saying that they "even" get to use a bathroom is not sending the message they think it is sending.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 29 Aug 2018 @ 4:01pm

      Re:

      I get the vibe that the employee knows exactly what message he is sending and what reference he is implying. It's like "well-meaning" letters of recommendation that dwell extensively on how well an employee performed completely irrelevant tasks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        stimoceiver (profile), 29 Aug 2018 @ 4:20pm

        Re: Re:

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Drew T Obvious, 30 Aug 2018 @ 6:12am

          One-pager Zombie "stimoceiver" crawls out after 32 months!

          20 comments in bit over 5 years -- half of it dormant!

          These "accounts" are lightly engaged yet loyal. Never a mention let alone explanation for long gaps. Never a mention of obvious changes here, far fewer pieces and comments, because that'd point up they've come back to a clearly waning site. Never an "unlike others, I'm no zombie" that'd show recent reading. Never a mention forgot password, and boy the recovery was easy. Always blandly supportive of Techdirt's view so don't have to respond, just make a reassuring background for the few real commenters. Never acknowledgement or denial by Techdirt, but a couple ACs and suspects have tried "you're crazy" to deflect. No one will even admit that they're ODD! Because there's NO OTHER EXPLANATION than astro-turfing. But draw your own concussions.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 6:19am

            Re: One-pager Zombie "stimoceiver" crawls out after 32 months!

            But draw your own concussions.

            Spoken like someone who has had a few too many of those over the years.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 6:47am

            Re: One-pager Zombie "stimoceiver" crawls out after 32 months!

            Why do you care?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 7:29am

              Don't ask, you don't want to go down that hole

              Because they are obsessed with TD and everything involved in it, to the point that they routinely check posting history of anyone and everyone that posts a comment looking for people that aren't as obsessed with the site as them in order to (somehow) bolster whatever paranoid delusion they've got kicking around.

              I kinda wish I'd had an in-between account between AC and TOG honestly, just so I could occasionally post using it and have fun riling up the nutjob.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 8:41am

            Re: One-pager Zombie "stimoceiver" crawls out after 32 months!

            This may shock you, but normal people are capable of resetting a password without announcing it to the world.

            Normal people are capable of not posting on every single post every single today because they have other interests or may only have input on certain topics.

            Normal people don't sit down and track the commenting histories of every user on the site to prop up an insane conspiracy which would accomplish nothing.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 29 Aug 2018 @ 3:47pm

    Amazon prefers piss poor employees

    And those are some piss poor tweets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 4:32pm

      Re: Amazon prefers piss poor employees

      And most are probably scripted by the PR department.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 30 Aug 2018 @ 2:21am

      Re: Amazon prefers piss poor employees

      I'll never get voted funny if I am being that subtle. "piss poor employees" means employees that aren't accumulating large amounts of urine. Well, a joke requiring an explanation is a bad joke. Better luck next time.

      Is there some way to add a laugh track in Markdown? Oh wait, there is: ;-)

      How unsubtle.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 29 Aug 2018 @ 5:21pm

    Section 230 immunizes social media sites from liablity for FTC violations.

    Of course, the real solution is to sterilize anyone stupid enough to believe online reviews or publicity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 5:36pm

      Re:

      Twitter is immunized from being liable for theoretical violations committed entirely by Amazon.

      Such horror!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 7:39pm

      Re:

      Everything's a Section 230 campaign for you, isn't it? What's next? Section 230 invented plastic microbeads that are causing erectile dysfunction?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 12:14am

      Re:

      Section 230 immunizes social media sites from liablity for FTC violations.

      What? No it does not. Social media companies are still liable for their own FTC violations. They're not liable for their users FTC violations.

      This story has fuck all to do with CDA 230. Why even bring it up?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 29 Aug 2018 @ 5:22pm

    Isn't it a violation of SEC rules to make false and misleading statements about the stock of a publicly traded company?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 6:14pm

      Re: 230

      Isn't it a violation of SEC rules to make false and misleading statements about the stock of a publicly traded company?

      Strangely, this also has nothing to do with 230.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 11:17pm

        Re: Re: 230

        But unsurprisingly that hasn't stopped John "I Hate Section 230 Because I Want to Write Overly Expensive Self-Help Books But Can't Because Techdirt Will Make Fun of Me" Smith!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 5:44am

          Re: Re: Re: 230

          That's only because his "name" would be too big to fit on the cover of a book.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 6:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 230

            Alas, alack! If only there was some other way of differentiating himself beyond the usage of a common, everyday, average pseudonym of John Smith!

            Like... using his own fucking name!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2018 @ 8:26pm

    The most disgusting part

    It would probably be far cheaper to put in even cheapskate measures to improve working conditions like adding in fans, water coolers, and slightly loosening quotas a bit instead of wasting money on goddamned ineffective PR campaign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 29 Aug 2018 @ 8:55pm

    Funny...

    doing such a thing in the Amazon reviews (sellers paying customers to give reviews) would get you kicked off Amazon permanently (ToS violation).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Aug 2018 @ 10:24pm

      'Do what we say, not what we do.'

      Which would probably explain the vague non-answers in response to the 'are you paying/getting paid to make those posts?', question. No-one like a hypocrite and paying employees to gush about the company while cracking down on sellers that tried to similarly game their reputations/products would leave Amazon looking all kinds of bad.

      If they aren't paying the employees to make those posts, and it's in fact entirely voluntary then they really need to make that clear, the sooner the better, as not doing has good odds of making the whole thing blow up in their face.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 9:53am

        Re: 'Do what we say, not what we do.'

        I go to work every day on a strictly "volunteer" basis. The fact that they pay me has nothing to do with it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 1:52pm

      Re: Funny...

      doing such a thing in the Amazon reviews (sellers paying customers to give reviews) would get you kicked off Amazon permanently (ToS violation).

      It's all theater. All you have to do is come back with a new name.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Fraction Tech (profile), 29 Aug 2018 @ 9:46pm

    Amazon workers on Twitter

    Amazon has good reason to try to clean up its online reputation. The job market is strong, making it harder to find people to work in its warehouses. Potential employees search Twitter to learn about companies, says David Lewis, CEO of human resources consultancy OperationsInc, and positive messages could “mitigate the sting or bite” of negative ones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Killercool (profile), 29 Aug 2018 @ 10:11pm

      Re: Amazon workers on Twitter

      That doesn't mean that what they are doing is ethical, despite how legal it may be. And now people know that the "positive" (they kinda aren't) reviews are paid, and generally people don't like that.

      They're literally shills.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 6:23am

      Re: Amazon workers on Twitter

      They could try actually improving working conditions: raising salaries, lowering picker quotas, providing better benefits...

      I mean, they'd have to either raise prices or cut into their massive profits, but...

      Why is everyone laughing at me?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 6:52am

      Re: Amazon workers on Twitter

      "The job market is strong"
      - LOL - this just never gets old.


      "harder to find people to work in its warehouses"
      - Perhaps the working conditions, pay and lack of benefits has something to do with it.

      "Potential employees search Twitter to learn about companies"
      - This is how people conduct a job search? Friggin hipsters!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 7:47am

        Re: Re: Amazon workers on Twitter

        Calm down skippy. The OP didn't say it will be an effective campaign. My employer is facing the tightening job market and is looking at raising starting wages because the people we're getting aren't working out.
        Amazon, like most other businesses will try the cheapest route first.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re: Amazon workers on Twitter

          When a business refuses to pay their workers enough to live and then complains about not being able to locate enough workers ... I tend to not be very sympathetic.

          Many times it is simply a ruse in order to get more H1B allocations.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 29 Aug 2018 @ 10:21pm

    Well, at least there is one way to make money working for Amazon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 4:34am

    So, I am not sure about the warehouses, I only know of some people that used to work in the corporate and IT departments in Massachusetts.
    The office environment rewards throwing other people under the bus. Being super aggressive and making sure others get blamed are what causes the tears and stress. You literally need to get EVERYTHING in writing else it will be used against you in some way. Ask someone to do something you need to do your job and you have no access to it? They say yes and never do it? Not in writing? Your fault. Too much work on your desk because someone else is shirking their duty? Your fault. If someone is better at fibbing than you are or making up believable stories, you will not do well at Amazon. It is why, when I get recruiters sending me requests to apply, I send them emails explaining, in depth, as to why I will never ever apply to work at Amazon. Some day they will get the hint.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 30 Aug 2018 @ 5:24am

      Re:

      Welcome to the corporate world. In case you haven't noticed, that describes almost every company with more than 500 employees.

      That's not just Amazon, your problem is with the fact that people are dickish.

      I pretty sure people were that way well before Amazon, the internet, electricity... I am pretty sure that if two cavemen worked together on a cave, one of them would get hit in the head with a large rock just after it was finished.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 11:21am

      Re:

      All of that may be true, but last week I ordered a book from Amazon at about 8:00 in the morning and it was on my doorstep by 3:30 in the afternoon that same day, so they're doing something right.

      If the guy packing my box has to wear an adult diaper to make that happen, so be it!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re:

        If the guy packing my box has to wear an adult diaper to make that happen, so be it!

        Don't care what happens to others so long as you get what you want, eh?
        Hell, I bet you'd sell your own grandmother.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          btr1701 (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          > > If the guy packing my box has to wear an adult diaper
          > > to make that happen, so be it!

          > Don't care what happens to others so long as you get
          > what you want, eh?

          Oh, look! Another humorless fuck that can't recognize a joke when someone slaps him across the face with one.

          > Hell, I bet you'd sell your own grandmother.

          None left alive to sell, so much like the number of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2018 @ 3:12pm

        Re: Re:

        Do they hire ex astronauts?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 7:46am

    Honestly, I thought all those accounts were bots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2018 @ 8:08am

    show ME the money

    I love it here!

    did i win?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Call center worker Sargas, 30 Aug 2018 @ 9:46am

    "pee in garbage cans"?

    They should consider themselves lucky. Where I work they took the individual desk cans away. So now people sometimes pee in their chairs. But that started leaving stains in the chairs. That wouldn't have been so bad, but some people (at the risk of being fired if caught) began taking photos of the chair stains and anonymously leaking them (pun intended). So management came up with a solution. They replaced the formerly light colored chairs with black ones that don't so easily show the stains. Problem solved!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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