Amazon has ended a controversial influencer campaign in which it paid workers to tweet how much they love working at Amazon, reports The Financial Times. Workers in the retailer’s warehouses (which it calls fulfillment centers) were paid to share positive impressions of the business and to deny widely reported workplace failures, such as employees being forced to urinate in bottles to achieve performance goals.
According to internal documents shared by The interception in 2021, the program launched in 2018 in response to waves of criticism of Amazon’s safety standards and working conditions. The workers were singled out for their “great sense of humour” and asked to respond “in a polite – but candid – manner” to critics of the company, including policymakers and politicians.
In a typical tweet, an employee responds to a reviewer by saying, “I’ve been working at Amazon fulfilling orders for 2 years now. Do you think if I wasn’t paid enough I would still be here? Full (and generous) benefits. OH! AND I love the people I work with! Yeah – I’m doing great partner! [cowboy emoji]”
Employees were recognizable on Twitter by the nickname “Amazon FC Ambassador” appended to the end of their name. But the exact identity or number of “ambassadors” has never been clear. A Bellingcat The survey found at least 53 active accounts on Twitter, but noted that users tended to deploy similar language, tweet the same images and even swap account ownership, creating a blur of overlapping identities. .
what i love about these amazon fc ambassador accounts is how some amazon executives thought forcing their employees to tweet how much they enjoy serving their corporate masters would make amazon look normal and good, and not at all like an evil society in a dystopian novel
— Existential Comics (@existentialcoms) August 16, 2019
To many, this setup seemed too contrived to be taken seriously, and the accounts quickly became the butt of criticism and ridicule. It wasn’t helped by the fact that anyone could call themselves an “Amazon FC Ambassador” on Twitter, and a number of parodies soon emerged. As the operator of a popular parody account said The edge“It was so weird to me that Amazon made their employees sit on the clock and be sycophants to the people who hired them. Plus, their strategy was so chaotic it wasn’t even effective.
This reaction seems to have reached the top brass of Amazon. According to FT‘s report, “Amazon’s top executives […] were unhappy with the low reach of the program,” and as a result, the company “closed its doors and removed all traces of the influencer campaign late last year.”