Amazon has reportedly been spying on workers' private Facebook groups, tracking plans to 'strike or protest'
- Amazon is closely monitoring dozens of private and public social media groups run by Amazon Flex package delivery drivers across the US, UK, and Spain, Vice reported Tuesday.
- According to Vice, an internal tool and reports unintentionally left online revealed how corporate employees receive regular updates on drivers' posts in closed Facebook groups as well as public tweets and Reddit threads.
- The company has been using the tool to identify drivers complaining about working conditions, posting negative media articles, and "planning for any strike or protest against Amazon," Vice reported.
- Amazon has become increasingly hostile to worker organising, which has ramped up during the pandemic, taking steps such as firing protest organisers, tracking unionising efforts using a heat map, and disrupting employees' attempts raise awareness about safety issues.
- Earlier on Tuesday, Amazon posted and then deleted a job opening for an "intelligence analyst" to monitor "labor organising threats."
- For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Amazon workers have become more vocal about dangerous conditions during the pandemic, repeatedly going on strike, staging protests, and joining with coworkers to push for change.
Often, they've taken to social media, either to raise awareness publicly or to strategise in private conversations about how to force the company to address various issues — but as it turns out, Amazon has been listening in.
On Tuesday, Vice reported that Amazon has been monitoring dozens of private and public social media groups operated by Flex drivers across the US, UK, and Spain.
Amazon did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment.
According to Vice, Amazon corporate employees have been using an internal social media monitoring tool and compiling regular reports to keep tabs on drivers' posts, assigning them categories, such as complaints about "poor working conditions," links to negative media coverage, being approached by researchers for academic studies, or "planning for any strike or protest against Amazon."
The tool monitors conversations taking place across various platforms, including in private Facebook groups, subreddits about driving for Amazon Flex, and tweets containing the keyword "Amazon Flex," Vice reported.
On a login screen for the tool, according to Vice, Amazon described the contents as "classified," adding: "DO NOT SHARE without proper authentication. Most of the Post/Comment screenshots within the site are from closed Facebook groups. It will have a detrimental effect if it falls within the reach of any of our Delivery partners. DO NOT SHARE without proper authentication."
Amazon delivery drivers and warehouse workers have become more outspoken in recent months about low wages, a lack of benefits, and pressure to work in what they say are unsafe conditions. They've led strikes in New York, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Spain, and Italy.
More recently, as CEO Jeff Bezos — the world's richest individual by a substantial margin — saw his net worth soar past $200 billion (R3.3 trillion), workers demonstrated outside his house to demand better pay and benefits.
But at the same time that workers have become more unified in speaking out about how they're treated by Amazon, the company has responded by becoming increasingly hostile to their efforts to organise.
Amazon has fired at least five workers who have publicly spoken out against the company, prompting a variety of investigations from regulators over whether the acts were unlawfully retaliatory. Business Insider reported in April that Amazon-owned Whole Foods has been using a heat map to track potential unionisation efforts.
Earlier on Tuesday, Amazon posted and then quickly deleted a job listing for an "intelligence analyst" who would be tasked with monitoring "labour organising threats against the company" as well as gathering material for Amazon's legal action against labour groups who protest the company.
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