Over the past month, an army of Amazon workers was discovered on social media, defending their employer after numerous reports surfaced of the terrible working conditions at the company’s fulfillment centers. The Twitter accounts, which were believed by some to be social bots, are paid by Amazon to regain control of the "working conditions" narrative lost this summer after multiple stories revealed workplace safety issues.
TechCrunch first reported the accounts Friday after Twitter user @bornwithatail_ on Thursday found numerous accounts posting similar messages. The report specified that only 15 public accounts were found, all displaying similar characteristics. As shown below, each account uses the same Amazon smile logo as its Twitter banner (all banners perfectly sized), have “FC Ambassador” plus a unique name as the handle, and accounts are all backlinked 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
This week Amazon started creating astroturf accounts that search & reply to tweets criticizing Amazon's working conditions, a normal & regular thing companies do. pic.twitter.com/jons5ci3NL— regular gem (@Choplogik) August 23, 2018
“After Flamboyant Shoes Guy called out the phenomenon, I found 15 accounts (please don’t abuse them — they get enough of that already). All with “Amazon smiles” as their backgrounds and several with animals as profile pictures. All have the same biostructure: “(Job titles) @(warehouse shorthand location). (Duration) Amazonian. (2- or 3-item list of things they like.)” All have “FC Ambassador” in their name. All have links to an Amazon warehouse tour service,” said TechCrunch.
Here is a snapshot of Amazon’s army of Twitter trolls
TechCrunch said FC Ambassadors mostly replied to Twitter users who criticized Amazon working conditions. The tweets all seem scripted to some extent and are presented in a manner that does not fit the profile of a low skill/wage worker.
A good number of Amazon employees are on food stamps. So you're fine with your tax dollars going to support Amazon employees? 🙄— Yvonne Stuart (@YMAStuart) August 22, 2018
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
I love "couch shopping!" It's ALMOST as much fun as being here at work in the FC. As a picker, we get to see all the unique things people purchase. It keeps the night interesting, waiting to see what is going to come across my screen next.— Carol - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCCarol) August 23, 2018
Amazon has really developed into something pretty amazing since it's start in 1994. And I, for one, am sure glad it did. I have been with the co just over a year, now and wouldn't trade my time in the FC for anything.— Carol - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCCarol) August 23, 2018
On the contrary, we Amazon employees get paid very well.— Jeremy - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCJeremy) August 18, 2018
In fact Amazon pays fulfillment center employees ~30% more than traditional retail stores. On top of that we also get full health benefits that includes dental & vision! I almost forgot to mention...we also get stocks! 💰
TechCrunch points out that ambassadors do not receive compensation for social media postings; it is a “totally optional role.” But they also raise the question of how ambassadors find the time to research social media for negative posts, then counter the arguments, all at the same time of working long hours at the warehouse.
One Twitter user was successful at triggering an Amazon troll.
Then two Amazon trolls showed up in the conversation.
One of the most embarrassing conversation topics that ambassadors magically pop up in are the reports about Amazon workers peeing in bottles and trash cans.
WaPo Refuses To Cover Amazon's Horrendous "Pee Bottle" Warehouse Conditions https://t.co/EX3vDGwolm— zerohedge (@zerohedge) June 22, 2018
What are people saying on Twitter?
the amazon twitter accounts are really creepy— ZⒶC 🏳️🌈💀🎸🌮🔴🐼 (@chxmicalwarfare) August 24, 2018
like does anyone actually talk like those
we are supposed to believe those are legitimate???
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 told TechCrunch that these “FC ambassadors are employees who have experience working in our fulfillment centers. 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.”
Judging by the posting history, it seems as the program to repair Amazon’s image on social media via Twitter trolls started earlier this month.
A former ambassador and three-year warehouse Amazon veteran Chris Grantham spilled the beans to Yahoo Finance’s Krystal Hu, who shared the information with TechCrunch:
“When I was there they just got an extra paid day off and a gift card after Peak [pre-holiday season]. This is what I got. A paid day off (that expired in 3 weeks lol) and a $50 Amazon gift card. Plus, they gave us lunch. Coldcuts and sandwich bread. I absolutely did not get paid more to train people.
Ambassador isn’t a ‘job’ you do every day, its just something you are trained to do. You go to a 4 hour class and they teach you how to teach others to tie a knot using a set of instructions. This is how new hires a supposed to be taught. You are supposed to teach them right from a script using a set protocol. Becoming an ambassador was a way to get out of loading trucks, or packing boxes for 10 to 12 hrs. You may ambassador 1 day then unload trucks for the next 3.
I stopped doing it after the first year I was there because it didn’t pay more. It’s voluntary. Your manager picks them. Generally speaking ambassadors are the “kiss asses” of the department.”
As for the weird Twitter army of Amazon trolls cheerfully defending warehouse tasks, it appears to be an Orwellian maneuver by the company to regain control of the narrative after the world recently found out about the deplorable working conditions in its facilities. In doing so, it seems Amazon could be offering gift cards and Coldcut sandwiches to its employees for the ambassador role. Personally, it is more or less a media PR firm running the show.