Amazon Releases Anti-Union Twitter Bots
Multiple fake accounts have been created by the company to convince Amazon workers to vote no
On Monday, voting in the historic union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama ended. The union effort has made national news as it would be the first union at the nation’s second-largest private employer and it also exposed the poor working conditions that Amazon workers are forced to deal with, in direct contradiction to the “progressive” public image that Amazon likes to put out there.
Workers in Bessemer faced an intense anti-union campaign that included daily text messages encouraging them to vote no, captive audience meetings where they were indoctrinated with anti-union messages, and intimidation for speaking up in favor of the union. Truthout is reporting that Amazon has even hired off-duty police officers to intimidate workers and the supporters that rally outside of the warehouse on a near-daily basis.
In another attempt to dissuade Bessemer workers from voting yes and to refute some of the claims about working for Amazon, some vocal Amazon employees have taken to Twitter to talk about how great it is to work for the company. Except these workers aren’t real and instead are bot or troll accounts, most likely created by the company. One such user is @AmazonFCDarla who joined Twitter a few days ago and began tweeting about how she didn’t like unions. In her bio, the account claimed that she was an Amazon picker and had been working at the company since April 2020.
The account has since been taken by Twitter. In her tweets, @AmazonFCDarla wasn’t even accurate in her reasons for not liking unions, claiming that there’s no ability to opt-out of paying dues. As longtime labor reporter Steven Greenhouse noted on Twitter, this tweet was directed to workers in Alabama, which is a right-to-work state meaning that you in fact have the right to opt-out of paying dues.
Aside from smart tech folks saying this is a fake, AI-generated profile, what Darla say is false, as Amazon well knows. Because Alabama is an anti-union-fee state (a so-called right-to-work state), Amazon workers there have the right to opt out of paying any union dues or fees. https://t.co/E9hrQrC0OK
— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) March 29, 2021
Darla wasn’t the only fake account pushing anti-union propaganda. Other accounts like @amazonFCZach, an account that was formed this month and has no followers, tweeted about how wonderful it is to work at Amazon, while @AmazonFClulu tweeted “A great way to help with a UTI is by drinking cranberry juice, which you can afford when you make $15/hr AT THE GREATEST COMPANY IN THE WORLD!”
Another account, @OK4At, tweeted “Unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers.” His account was found to be fake when an image search showed his profile picture was really a picture of the Youtube entertainers Dude Perfect. All of these accounts have now been banned by Twitter.
This isn’t the first time that Amazon has resorted to using fake Twitter accounts to clap back at attacks on the company. Back in 2018, Tech Crunch found at least 15 accounts that all had the same bio structure. They also all had handles that said @warehouse shorthand like FC for fulfillment center, and included in their bios the duration they worked for amazon and two or three things they like to do. All would ceaselessly communicate upbeat messages about how great it was to work for the company.
Hello! I work in an Amazon FC in WA and our wages and benefits are very good. Amazon pays FC employees ~30% more than traditional retail stores and offers full medical benefits from day 1. Working conditions are very good- clean/well lit- Safety is a top priority at my facility!
— Phil – Amazon FC Ambassador (@AmazonFCPhil) August 17, 2018
It is a violation of Twitter’s rules on spam and platform manipulation to create accounts that impersonate or falsely claim to be affiliated with a company and it is against their rules to create automated “bot” accounts.
The emergence of these fake anti-union accounts comes as the company has decided to be more aggressive on social media in defending the company against attacks. As UCOMM reported last week, Amazon CEO Dave Clark took to Twitter to attack Senator Bernie Sanders, calling the company more progressive than the Senator. The official @AmazonNews account also went after Congressman Mark Pocan, who accused the company of forcing their delivery drivers to pee in bottles due to the expectations that are placed on drivers.
According to Recode, the new Twitter tact was a directive from the top. Recode has reported that company founder Jeff Bezos has expressed dissatisfaction in recent weeks that company officials haven’t been more aggressive in pushing back against criticism against the company over their failure to pay taxes and their union-busting efforts.
The extent to which Amazon is willing to go to stop the workers in Bessemer from organizing shows just how scared the company is about RWDSU winning the election. Votes are being counted this week and results could come out by Friday, although it could take a week or longer if the company or union contest some of the votes.