A surge of “fake” Twitter accounts have emerged to defend Amazon and push back against criticism of working conditions at the company amid a fiercely fought union election for the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
Many of the account handles start with “AmazonFC” followed by a first name and a warehouse designation. The accounts often respond to criticism against Amazon on Twitter, dismissing concerns and reports about robotic working conditions and high injury rates.
One, now suspended, account tweeted: “Unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers!”
Similar accounts have been used before in periods when criticism toward the company went viral in 2018 and 2019. Several of the Amazon Twitter user accounts cited in reports from 2018 and 2019 no longer exist. Others have switched names. Some of the accounts have been exposed as using fake profile pictures from stock photos.
Some Amazon employees act as “ambassadors” – sharing positive experiences of working with the company. The company confirmed that some of the latest tweets allegedly coming from its ambassadors were fake.
“Many of these are not Amazon FC Ambassadors – it appears they are fake accounts that violate Twitter’s terms. We’ve asked Twitter to investigate and take appropriate action,” said an Amazon spokesperson.
The spokesperson did not clarify how many Twitter accounts are run by real Amazon ambassadors, or which accounts still on the platform are actually run by Amazon workers serving as public relations ambassadors. Amazon had declined to provide information on these accounts in previous reports as well, including how these workers are compensated for serving in these roles on social media, though some previous reports have noted these workers work on social media in lieu of warehouse work, and can receive perks such as free gift cards or days off.
The investigative journalism site Bellingcat has compiled a list of at least 56 Amazon FC Ambassador Twitter accounts.
Some of the accounts that became active recently on Twitter, such as @AmazonFCDarla and @AmazonFCLulu were suspended by Twitter. In response to the accounts, some Twitter users created obvious parody accounts mocking the robotic defenses of Amazon and uniform design of the accounts.
Amazon’s public relations tactics have received scrutiny over the years, and more so recently after the Amazon CEO Dave Clark and the Amazon News Twitter account criticized senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Mark Pocan on Twitter. These attacks backfired after leaked memos to The Intercept revealed Amazon engineers flagged the tweets over concerns the account may be compromised and characterized the tweets as “unnecessarily antagonistic (risking Amazon’s brand).”
Other leaked memos also revealed Amazon managers had complained about Amazon delivery drivers leaving bottles of urine and bags of feces in trucks, after Amazon’s PR account claimed reports of workers urinating in bottles were false. NBC News also reported the Tempemail Labor Relations Board is currently determining whether to consolidate multiple complaints from workers over the past year alleging interference from Amazon against workers’ attempts to organize or form a union.
On 30 March, Amazon’s senior vice-president for policy and communications, Jay Carney, a former Obama Administration staffer, joined in on the pushback against high profile critics like Sanders. The recent uptick in Amazon’s public relations team and executives antagonizing critics reportedly stems from complaints from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos himself, who recently complained to other Amazon executives they weren’t pushing back on their critics enough.