In Amazon, an inside social media challenge the place workers could not say something “inappropriate”

Amazon definitely has a very strange conception of freedom of expression. After fighting for years to form a union – the first to be born late last week, a historic victory for employees – the e-commerce giant is preparing to launch a fully censored internal social network, according to The Intercept. The American site has received documents about the project that has been under discussion since November 2021. The idea: to enable workers to appreciate the performance of their colleagues through “shout outs“, a form of online promotion. To this measure is added the reward system in the form of badges (but without value), which are obtained when performing activities useful for the company’s business.

Amazon’s management hopes that such a device will increase the morale and productivity of employees. But according to the documents he came across Interceptleaders are already anticipating the potential feedback effects of such a tool, to the point that they are considering excluding even the least annoying topics through filters: insults, harassment, but also … trade unionism.

Creating a union on Amazon in the US: hope for others?

Strict moderation to maintain a positive attitude

In particular, the American site received a list of potentially banned words and expressions, with the aim of filtering every ounce of negativity. We find the expressions “I hate“,”I have nothing to do“, or”that worries me“But above all, it contains a whole range of terms related to union struggle and criticism of working conditions such as.”union“,”salary increase“i”slave“Any message containing these words would be blocked immediately without the recipient seeing it. In short: project leaders prefer to impose extremely strict moderation instead of risking the application being used against their interests.

After the publication of Intercept from the word list, an Amazon spokeswoman clarified that under no circumstances will it be applied as it is: “If this app appears in the future, there are no plans to filter most of the words you quote. The only types of words that would be filtered are those that offend or harass, to protect our teams.“She also reminds that the project has not been approved yet and that it could change drastically or will never be launched.

In Amazon fear of unions

However, these findings once again show Amazon’s concern about forming a union, especially after the working conditions in its warehouses were sharply criticized during the Covid crisis.

But employees continue to win the position: on Friday, April 2, Jeff Bezos ’company recognized the first creation of an American workers’ union, at the Staten Island warehouse in New York City. If union representation in France is legally prescribed, most leaders in the United States continue to denigrate and oppose it. In late March, a document issued by the United States Department of Labor revealed that Amazon had thus paid more than $ 4.3 million in consulting fees during 2021 to implement its anti-union strategy.

The American giant is now considering filing a complaint against the creation of a union. But it seems that the trend is already largely underway in other warehouses, and it is hard to imagine that a business improvement application would slow down this phenomenon.