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“Veritas”

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Amazon’s attempt to sell their anti-union position on Twitter led to any number of obvious ridiculousness and self-owning. There was the attempts to tell members of Congress that workers didn’t actually have to go to the bathroom in packages even though this was in fact documented and easily shown. There’s also the buying of “humorous” accounts to make their case, which was a gigantic exercise of slamming a cream pie in their own face on repeat.

Amazon’s small Twitter army of “ambassadors” was quietly conceived in 2018 under the codename “Veritas,” which sought to train and dispatch select employees to the social media trenches to defend Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, according to an internal description of the program obtained exclusively by The Intercept.

Amazon ambassadors drew attention this week as they responded to a wave of online criticism for the company’s treatment of workers amid a union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Anticipating criticisms of worker conditions at their fulfillment centers in particular, Amazon designed Veritas to train fulfillment center workers chosen for their “great sense of humor” to confront critics — including policymakers — on Twitter in a “blunt” manner. The document, produced as part of the pilot program in 2018 and marked “Amazon.com Confidential,” also includes examples of how its ambassadors can snarkily respond to criticisms of the company and its CEO. Several examples involve Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime critic of the $1 trillion firm who has been targeted by it in recent days. It also provides examples of how to defend Bezos.

“To address speculation and false assertions in social media and online forums about the quality of the FC [Fulfillment Center] associate experience, we are creating a new social team staffed with active, tenured FC employees, who will be empowered to respond in a polite—but blunt—way to every untruth,” the project description reads. “FC Ambassadors (‘FCA’) will respond to all posts and comments from customers, influencers (including policymakers), and media questioning the FC associate experience.”

Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said via email: “FC Ambassadors are employees who work in our fulfillment centers and choose to share their personal experience — the FC ambassador program helps show what it’s actually like inside our fulfillment centers, along with the public tours we provide.”

In 2018, Amazon admitted that the ambassadors were employees paid to “honestly share the facts” about what working in its fulfillment centers is like. Many Twitter users had at first believed the ambassadors were automated “bot” accounts due to the nearly identical format of their account bios, all of which feature the Amazon smile logo and begin with the handle “@AmazonFC.” But that format was specifically mandated by Amazon, The Intercept’s document shows. “We could also add an emoji to the username to give personality, for example a small box emoji,” the document suggests.

Amazon may be a wealthy company. And they probably will defeat the union in Alabama. But let know one say that they are actually good at any of this internet stuff.

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