More than a dozen Amazon workers are defending their employer on Twitter after a string of reports detailing bad working conditions at the company’s fulfillment centers.
But they’re not just tweeting out of loyalty to the company, although they say that’s a part of it. Amazon is paying them to do it.
TechCrunch first noticed the accounts after Twitter user @bornwithatail_ discovered some of the workers’ tweets. There are currently 15 known accounts, all bearing similar attributes. For example, each account uses the Amazon smile logo as its Twitter background, all have “FC Ambassador” and a little brown box emoji in their Twitter name, and every one of the accounts link to Amazon’s fulfillment center tour website.
So Amaz*n has set up an army of bot accounts, allegedly from workers at various fulfillment centers, whose sole purpose is to jump on tweets critical of their benevolent overlord with the same stale cant about great pay & benefits pic.twitter.com/Z7lJWUb7A0
— FLAMBOYANT SHOES GUY 👟👞🌴🍍🥥🌹🌵 (@bornwithatail_) August 23, 2018
The accounts mostly post replies to other Twitter users, likely in response to searches for comments criticizing Amazon worker conditions. The FC Ambassadors jump into the conversation with those users, replying to the critical tweet with what they say is their first-person account of working for the company.
I work at one in TX & can assure you-not on food stamps/never have been. In fact, I know a LOT of the people in this warehouse & have yet to meet one who is. We receive good pay and a generous benefits package. Lots of ops to move up into even higher paying jobs too…just sayin
— Shaye – Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCShaye) August 22, 2018
Hello! I work at an Amazon warehouse in WA and I can assure you that they are treating me well! I have great benefits, like the people I work with and can go to the bathroom when needed 😃
— Phil – Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCPhil) August 10, 2018
One of the most frequent conversation topics that Amazon’s FC Ambassadors seem to pop up in are the recent reports of Amazon workers who claim they have to pee in bottles and other non-traditional workplace lavatories. The workers say that due to Amazon’s strict packaging targets and break micromanagement, they simply don’t have the time to trek to bathrooms — which can be few and far between in Amazon’s huge warehouses. FC Ambassadors obviously refute this claim.
Just like Jeff I can use the restroom anytime I want! No bottle needed ⛔
That’s especially good news for me being that I drink water like a camel. Needless to say I use the restroom a lot; thank goodness there’re lots of 🚻 to choose from!
— Jeremy – Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCJeremy) August 24, 2018
Over on Twitter, some are calling the whole thing downright creepy. Many seem to point to the overly earnest, way-too-positive attitudes the FC Ambassadors spout, often sounding more like they’re spouting corporate PR talk than like an employee giving their employer an honest assessment.
the amazon twitter accounts are really creepy
like does anyone actually talk like those
we are supposed to believe those are legitimate???
— ZⒶC 🏳️🌈💀🎸🌮🔴🐼 (@chxmicalwarfare) August 24, 2018
Dear Amazon, so now you’re using bots to spread misinformation about the low wages you pay employees and the deplorable working conditions in your Fulfillment Centers? What kind of creepy Orwellian bullshit is this?
— Mac (@alt_the_man) August 24, 2018
Amazon confirmed to Mashable that actual employees with experience working in the company’s fulfillment centers run the accounts, but they’ve chosen to be FC ambassadors full time. So these aren’t bots, and it clearly isn’t astroturfing — the practice of hiring several people to create fake accounts to push a marketing goal (often positive reviews) — but its overall effect is similar.
In a statement to Mashable, an Amazon spokesperson said:
FC ambassadors are employees who have experience working in our fulfilment centers. 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 fulfilment center tours we provide. Those tours enable thousands of customers every year to come and see for themselves what it’s like to work inside one of our fulfilment centers.
Hopefully, the company also addresses the concerns and criticisms of Amazon warehouse workers who have not had such pleasant personal experiences.