Amazon has disbanded the Twitter army that paid it to tweet about how awesome Amazon is

Tech

Amazon has halted a controversial influence campaign in which it paid employees to tweet about how much they love working at Amazon, reports The Financial Times. Employees at the retailer’s warehouses (which it calls fulfillment centers) were paid to share positive impressions about the company and to deny commonly reported workplace flaws, such as employees being forced to urinate into bottles to meet performance goals.

According to internal documents shared by: The Interception in 2021, the scheme was launched in 2018 in response to waves of criticism of Amazon’s safety standards and working conditions. Employees were selected for their “great sense of humor” and had to respond “politely but bluntly” to the company’s critics, including policymakers and politicians.

In a typical tweet, an employee responds to a critic by saying, “I’ve been working at Amazon for two years now, fulfilling orders. Do you think if I wasn’t paid enough I’d still be here? Full (and generous) benefits package. OH! AND I love the people I work with! Yes – I’m fine with my partner! [cowboy emoji]”

The employees were recognizable on Twitter thanks to the nickname “Amazon FC Ambassador” at the end of their names. But the exact identity or number of ‘ambassadors’ was never clear. A Bellingcat research found that at least 53 accounts were active on Twitter, but noted that users tended to use similar language, tweet the same photos, and even switch account ownership, creating a blur of overlapping identities.

To many, this setup seemed too artificial to be taken seriously, and the accounts quickly became the target of criticism and ridicule. This was not helped by the fact that anyone could call themselves an “Amazon FC Ambassador” on Twitter, and a number of parodies soon appeared. As the operator of a popular parody account told The edge“It was so bizarre to me that Amazon let their employees sit on the clock and be sycophants for the people they hired. Plus, their strategy was so chaotic that it wasn’t even effective.”

This response seems to have reached the top of Amazon. According to the FT‘s report, “senior Amazon executives” […] were unhappy with the poor reach of the scheme,” with the result that the company “stopped and removed all traces of the influence campaign at the end of last year.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.