- Amazon’s army of warehouse employees trained to defend the company on Twitter is at it again.
- The employee accounts follow a standard format, and tend to resurface amid negative press coverage.
- A newly leaked Amazon document reveals what the workers are and aren’t allowed to discuss.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Amazon’s army of warehouse workers paid to be on Twitter is notorious for showing up in conversations with the intent of defending Amazon.
The workers are also notorious for having eerily robotic speech patterns.
“I can assure you that I’m a real account,” a recent response from one such worker said. “I’m part of a program that lets me come on here & have conversations about what working for Amazon has been like for me. I’d like to know why you feel we are treated/paid bad. I’ve been so happy here & the pay/benefits are great.”
There’s a good reason for those speech patterns, according to a leaked Amazon document obtained by The Intercept. Amazon has a set of guidelines for what those employees can and cannot say, and even offers examples of how to respond.
First and foremost is that “FCAs,” or “Fulfillment Center Ambassadors,” cannot respond to anything regarding unionization, according to the document.
That’s particularly notable given this week’s unionization vote at an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. If it passes, it would be the first major union of Amazon workers.
Additionally, they can’t respond to direct media requests without approval from Amazon’s public relations department. They are also barred from responding to “compound” criticisms, or a tweet that also contains a topic that Amazon PR has not approved the FCAs to comment on.
The document offers an example of a tweet that FCAs should not respond to based on such criteria: “@Amazon why are you still advertising on breitbart?! Between that and barely paying your employees, I’m ready to quit shopping with you,” the example said.
Similarly enlightening, the document offers a variety of examples of the type of social media posts that FC Ambassadors should interact with – and the kind of responses the company finds appropriate.
The first example directly addresses the years-long reports from Amazon workers that they have to pee in bottles during shifts to save time: “Example: ‘Daily Sun: Amazon employees forced to urinate in bottles during their shift’.”
The example response in the document reads almost exactly like some of the responses from FC Ambassadors.
“No, that’s not right,” the example says. “I worked in an Amazon FC for over four years and never saw anyone urinate in a bottle. There are easily accessible bathrooms in every one of our buildings I’ve ever been in.”
Amazon’s FC Ambassador program isn’t new.
Back in 2018, Amazon admitted to paying a small army of employees to tweet positive things about the company. The document obtained by The Intercept is from 2018, when the program was formed under the code name “Veritas” (Latin for “truth).
It established the foundation of the program, and its purpose: “To address speculation and false assertions in social media and online forums about the quality of the FC associate experience, we are creating a new social team staffed with active, tenured FC employees, who will be empowered to respond in polite – but blunt – ways to every untruth,” the document says.
FC Ambassadors are paid the same hourly rate they get for their warehouse work, Amazon says, and it’s an “entirely voluntary” program.
Since the program started in 2018, a variety of accounts originally associated with it have been deactivated. And in the last few weeks, a handful of new FC accounts have sprung up as reports surfaced once again of employees having to urinate in bottles to preserve work time. The vast majority of FC Ambassador replies on social media specifically address these reports.
When reached for comment, Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said: “FC Ambassadors are employees who work in our fulfillment centers and choose to share their personal experience – the FC ambassador program helps show what it’s actually like inside our fulfillment centers, along with the public tours we provide. We encourage anyone who wants to see for themselves to sign up for a tour at www.amazonfctours.com.”
Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.