Amid increasing scrutiny of Amazon’s treatment of its fulfillment center workers—including an April report which alleged that workers are sometimes forced to pee in bottles rather than take bathroom breaks—it seems the company has decided to go on the offense. Over the last two weeks, at least 16 new Twitter accounts have been dispatched to send perky messages to anyone criticizing the company’s practices. The accounts, which are all visually similar, claim to be run by Amazon fulfillment center workers or “ambassadors.”
Several Twitter users pointed out these accounts before their existence was reported by The Guardian.
The Guardian’s article lists a few of the accounts and their claims:
They’re mostly stowers, pickers, or packers, and they claim to work in warehouses ranging from Kent, Washington, to Jacksonville, Florida.
Carol, a picker in Kent, tweets that with base salary, bonuses, and stock she makes around $15 an hour, not counting any overtime.
Adam, a stower based in San Marcos, Texas, says Amazon warehouse workers get healthcare coverage starting on day one and that the company will help pay employees’ college tuition.
Amazon spokesperson Ty Rogers told The Guardian via email that these accounts are legitimate employees of the company, seemingly confirming that this isn’t an elaborate prank by Nathan Fielder. “FC ambassadors are employees who understand what it’s actually like to work in our FCs,” Rogers said. “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.”
Rogers “declined to answer questions about how the accounts were created or if employees were compensated for defending the company on social media,” The Guardian wrote.
These posts, even if they are by real workers, are bizarre. Their tone is painfully upbeat, and they seem to attempt humor in many of their responses, almost all of which include smiley faces.
One account seemed to confirm the use of Scrip-like “Swag Bucks” at fulfillment centers.
So far, this new strategy appears to only have increased suspicion of Amazon’s labor practices among Twitter users, many of who assume the accounts are bots. Several parody accounts have already popped up.
Splinter has reached out to several of these accounts to find out more about how the ambassador program works, and whether the employees are paid for their tweets (as well as sharing some light propaganda of our own). We’ll update this post if we hear back.
Update, August 27, 6:19 pm: A representative of Amazon contacted Splinter and informed us that “ambassador” is a full time position, and that they receive the same compensation and benefits a regular employee would.