A new report from The Intercept suggests that a new in-dwelling messaging app for Amazon workforce could ban a lengthy string of text, together with “ethics.” Most of the phrases on the list are ones that a disgruntled staff would use — conditions like “union” and “compensation” and “pay elevate.” According to a leaked doc reviewed by The Intercept, one particular element of the messaging app (still in development) would be “An automatic phrase monitor would also block a wide variety of phrases that could depict prospective critiques of Amazon’s performing problems.” Amazon, of system, is not accurately a supporter of unions, and has invested (once again, per the Intercept) a ton of income on “anti-union consultants.”
So, what to say about this naughty list?
On 1 hand, it is easy to see why a business would want not to supply employees with a tool that would assistance them do something not in the company’s interest. I necessarily mean, if you want to arrange — or even only complain — applying your Gmail account or Sign or Telegram, that’s one point. But if you want to accomplish that intention by applying an application that the firm provides for internal organization applications, the organization it’s possible has a teensy little bit of a authentic criticism.
On the other hand, this is obviously a terrible seem for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be practically banning workers from applying phrases that (probably?) show they’re executing some thing the enterprise doesn’t like, or that possibly just suggest that the company’s employment standards aren’t up to snuff.
But actually, what strikes me most about this program is how ham-fisted it is. I signify, keywords? Very seriously? Never we presently know — and if we all know, then definitely Amazon is familiar with — that social media platforms make achievable substantially, much extra sophisticated ways of influencing people’s conduct? We’ve already viewed the use of Facebook to manipulate elections, and even our thoughts. In comparison to that, this meant listing of naughty words and phrases appears to be like Dr Evil making an attempt to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions should seriously be nervous about is employer-supplied platforms that do not explicitly ban words and phrases, but that subtly shape consumer expertise dependent on their use of people text. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly endeavor to influence a nationwide election that way, couldn’t an employer rather believably purpose at shaping a unionization vote in similar fasion?
As for banning the word “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The capability to chat brazenly about ethics — about values, about rules, about what your business stands for, is regarded by most students and consultants in the realm of company ethics as rather elementary. If you simply cannot converse about it, how probable are you to be to be in a position to do it?
(Thanks to MB for pointing me to this story.)