A new report from The Intercept implies that a new in-home messaging application for Amazon staff could ban a very long string of terms, which includes “ethics.” Most of the text on the listing are types that a disgruntled employee would use — terms like “union” and “compensation” and “pay raise.” According to a leaked doc reviewed by The Intercept, a single element of the messaging app (still in growth) would be “An automatic term monitor would also block a wide range of phrases that could stand for likely critiques of Amazon’s working conditions.” Amazon, of system, is not accurately a lover of unions, and has spent (yet again, for each the Intercept) a whole lot of revenue on “anti-union consultants.”
So, what to say about this naughty listing?
On one hand, it’s straightforward to see why a firm would want not to present workers with a instrument that would assist them do one thing not in the company’s desire. I mean, if you want to organize — or even basically complain — applying your Gmail account or Signal or Telegram, that is one factor. But if you want to obtain that goal by utilizing an application that the organization provides for inner business enterprise purposes, the enterprise it’s possible has a teensy bit of a genuine complaint.
On the other hand, this is clearly a undesirable glimpse for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be virtually banning staff members from utilizing words and phrases that (probably?) point out they’re undertaking a thing the firm doesn’t like, or that it’s possible just suggest that the company’s work standards aren’t up to snuff.
But really, what strikes me most about this strategy is how ham-fisted it is. I signify, key phrases? Severely? Never we by now know — and if we all know, then certainly Amazon is aware — that social media platforms make feasible substantially, a great deal more complex strategies of influencing people’s conduct? We have presently observed the use of Facebook to manipulate elections, and even our feelings. Compared to that, this intended listing of naughty words looks like Dr Evil seeking to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions should really genuinely be worried about is employer-provided platforms that really do not explicitly ban terms, but that subtly condition consumer experience based on their use of those text. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly try to impact a countrywide election that way, couldn’t an employer quite believably goal at shaping a unionization vote in very similar fasion?
As for banning the phrase “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The capacity to communicate brazenly about ethics — about values, about concepts, about what your business stands for, is regarded by most students and consultants in the realm of organization ethics as fairly elementary. If you simply cannot discuss about it, how likely are you to be to be capable to do it?
(Thanks to MB for pointing me to this story.)