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What the Hell Is Going on With Amazon’s Twitter Account?

 

Union organizers hold signs reading "Amazon has no excuse" during a rally

The “Amazon News” Twitter account has long been used to tell the world about all the great things Amazon wants us to know they’re doing. They tweet about the company’s charitable efforts, their work to reduce carbon emissions, and any other nice image-boosting stories. It is a consistently upbeat source for pro-Amazon news, for anyone who might be looking for that for whatever reason.

Then about a week ago, the account took a weird turn. In between its smiley self-promotion posts, it began attacking progressive politicians and media outlets.

As far as I can tell, the shift to antagonistic tweets first came in response to an article in The Guardian about how the film Nomadland glossed over the well-documented and widely-reported horrible working conditions inside Amazon’s fulfillment centers.

“Unlike the production team from Nomadland, it doesn’t appear that the author of this piece has ever been into an Amazon building, and she decided to write a fiction piece based on opinion instead of facts,” the account wrote with maximum pettiness.

Never mind, I guess, that Jessa Crispin’s article cites numerous first-hand accounts from workers and undercover reporters who spent quite a deal of time inside those buildings as well as the company’s delivery vans. Amazon continues to insist that the best way to see what it’s really like inside those warehouses is through a pre-scheduled virtual tour led by them. Sure.

Next up, when Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he would travel to Alabama to talk with Amazon workers who are attempting to unionize, Amazon’s CEO Worldwide Consumer Dave Clark tweeted that his company is “the Bernie Sanders of employers,” adding that that statement is “not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace.”

“So if you want to hear about $15 an hour and health care, Senator Sanders will be speaking downtown. But if you would like to make at least $15 an hour and have good health care, Amazon is hiring,” he added, declining to mention anything about the company’s history (and present) of union-busting.

Wisconsin congress member Mark Pocan responded to that tweet, saying “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” referencing a report that warehouse workers are not able to take necessary bathroom breaks during their high-demand shifts and have to resort to using bottles instead.

The Amazon News account jumped into the conversation to ask Pocan, “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.” We do, actually, since it’s been well documented by numerous reporters talking to loads of employees.

Then on Friday, the account lashed out at both Bernie Sanders again and Elizabeth Warren.

First, they displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of how the U.S. Senate works by implying Sanders is responsible for setting Vermont’s minimum wage.

Then they got into a back-and-forth with Senator Warren about corporate loopholes, telling her, “If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them.” Which is … exactly what she’s trying to do.

Warren responded: “I didn’t write the loopholes you exploit, @amazon – your armies of lawyers and lobbyists did.”

“But you bet I’ll fight to make you pay your fair share,” she added. “And fight your union-busting. And fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.”

Amazon’s incredibly petty response was once again to ignore everything having to do with unions and claim they were now the victim of a personal attack from a U.S. senator.

If you’re wondering why the official Amazon News account suddenly decided to write every tweet like they were Fox News cue cards, the answer appears to be: Jeff Bezos.

According to Vox’s Recode, the order to “fight back” came from the very top.

“Recode has learned that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressed dissatisfaction in recent weeks that company officials weren’t more aggressive in how they pushed back against criticisms of the company that he and other leaders deem inaccurate or misleading,” the outlet writes. “What followed was a series of snarky and aggressive tweets that ended up fueling their own media cycles.”

That massive union vote that brought Bernie Sanders to Alabama ends Tuesday, making the timing of this new line of attack awfully suspicious. “Election results will be tallied early this week, and Amazon officials understand that if a majority of the employees vote to unionize, it could set off a chain reaction at other facilities — potentially forcing the e-commerce giant to overhaul how it manages its hundreds of thousands of front-line US workers,” Recode writes.

So yes, it makes sense that Amazon would be scared. What doesn’t make sense how they think peddling snark is helping them in any way.

(image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.