A new report from The Intercept implies that a new in-household messaging application for Amazon workforce could ban a lengthy string of phrases, like “ethics.” Most of the text on the checklist are kinds that a disgruntled worker would use — phrases like “union” and “compensation” and “pay increase.” According to a leaked document reviewed by The Intercept, one particular feature of the messaging app (however in improvement) would be “An automatic phrase monitor would also block a wide variety of terms that could signify possible critiques of Amazon’s functioning problems.” Amazon, of class, is not accurately a supporter of unions, and has expended (all over again, for each the Intercept) a whole lot of revenue on “anti-union consultants.”
So, what to say about this naughty record?
On a single hand, it’s straightforward to see why a enterprise would want not to offer personnel with a software that would enable them do a thing not in the company’s desire. I imply, if you want to organize — or even simply just complain — employing your Gmail account or Signal or Telegram, that’s one thing. But if you want to attain that purpose by applying an application that the firm provides for internal enterprise needs, the business it’s possible has a teensy little bit of a legit grievance.
On the other hand, this is plainly a bad look for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be pretty much banning staff from applying text that (possibly?) point out they’re undertaking one thing the company does not like, or that possibly just suggest that the company’s employment standards are not up to snuff.
But genuinely, what strikes me most about this strategy is how ham-fisted it is. I mean, keyword phrases? Significantly? Do not we already know — and if we all know, then surely Amazon understands — that social media platforms make attainable a great deal, considerably more innovative approaches of influencing people’s conduct? We’ve currently viewed the use of Fb to manipulate elections, and even our feelings. As opposed to that, this supposed listing of naughty terms would seem like Dr Evil trying to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions ought to truly be nervous about is employer-offered platforms that never explicitly ban text, but that subtly shape consumer encounter based on their use of individuals phrases. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly try to affect a national election that way, couldn’t an employer fairly believably purpose at shaping a unionization vote in identical fasion?
As for banning the word “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The capability to communicate openly about ethics — about values, about ideas, about what your business stands for, is regarded by most students and consultants in the realm of business enterprise ethics as quite essential. If you simply cannot talk about it, how likely are you to be to be able to do it?
(Many thanks to MB for pointing me to this tale.)
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