Last night, a deeply strange thing happened after a Twitter user responded to a fairly innocuous August 1 tweet from Amazon offering up free tours at a “fulfillment center” to see what the “warehouses are really like.”
A pretty fair criticism! We already know what working in the trenches of Amazon is like—a crushing pace broken up by rare, clocked-out bathroom breaks, or maybe just pissing in bottles for fear of losing your precarious job; the company going on an aggressive offensive against organized labor, while others work long hours and holidays, desperate for a raise.
In the face of all this increasing scrutiny, “Earth’s most customer-centric company” launched the “ambassador” program last year, where supposedly real Amazon workers tweet about how much they love the company. So, bizarrely, after that Twitter user above tweeted about working conditions at the monolith, she was swarmed with “ambassadors” eager to sing their overlord’s praises.
Upon brief further investigation, things got incredibly dark incredibly fast.
It also become genuinely disturbing that you couldn’t tell which—if any—of these “ambassadors” were real or bot, especially when the “ambassadors” started insisting they’re not “robots.”
Literally where am I anymore:
Amazon clearly isn’t even doing so well at this, and it feels deeply emblematic of the dystopian capitalism that governs our lives. But this (failed) PR campaign won’t matter—they’ve captured so much of the world’s business, and feel indispensable to so many people’s lives, that nothing needs to change—until workers rise up and demand what’s theirs.
Update, 1:29 p.m. ET: An Amazon spokeswoman reached out with the following statement urging me to visit a “fulfillment center”:
FC ambassadors are employees who work in our FCs and share facts based on personal experience. It’s important that we do a good job 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. This year alone, more than 100,000 guests have come to see for themselves what it’s like to work inside one of our FCs. If you haven’t visited, I recommend it.