Big Brother Is Watching: Amazon Worker Chat App to Ban Naughty Words Like 'Union,' 'Restrooms,' 'Pay Raise'
An automatic word monitor in a new Amazon worker chat app will ban a variety of words and phrases, such as “union,” “fairness,” “pay raise,” “slave labor,” and “master,” among other terms, according to internal documents obtained by the Intercept. Amazon will block and flag employee posts on an internal messaging app that the company deems problematic, according to internal company documents obtained by the Intercept.
The app is still in the planning phase and has not yet been launched. Alma Delia Garcia of New York Communities for Change speaks during a protest organized by New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York in front of the Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan residence in New York on December 02, 2020. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images) Jeff Bezos holds goggles to his face (Joe Raedle /Getty) The word “restrooms” is reportedly on the list of censored words — following reports of Amazon warehouse employees feeling the need to urinate in trash cans and bottles in order to avoid being scolded over bathroom breaks. “Our teams are always thinking about new ways to help employees engage with each other,” Amazon spokesperson Barbara M. Agrait told the Intercept. “This particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all.” Late last year, Amazon held a meeting where top executives talked about creating an internal social media app that would allow employees to praise their co-workers’ performance by giving them “Shout-Outs,” a source told the Intercept.
The goal of the Shout-Outs was foster happiness and productivity among Amazon employees, according to Head of Worldwide Consumer Business Dave Clark. But Amazon officials also discussed what they called “the dark side of social media,” and therefore decided to actively monitor posts in order to ensure a “positive community.” So an “auto bad word monitor” was put together, which included a blacklist that would automatically block employees from sending a message that contains profane or inappropriate words. But profanities were not the only words added to the blacklist, reports the Intercept. Some of the other words and terms to be added to the blacklist included the following, according to documents reviewed by the outlet: Accessibility Bullying Coalition Committee Compensation Concerned Diversity Ethics Fairness Favoritism Fire Freedom Grievance Harassment I don’t care I hate Injustice Living Wage Master Pay Raise Petition Plantation Prison Rate Representation Restrooms Robots Rude Senior Ops Slave Slave labor Stupid Terminated This is concerning This is dumb Threat TOT Trash Unfair Union Unite/unity Vaccine Amazon, however, denies that “many” of the words mentioned would be blocked on the internal messaging app. “If it does launch at some point down the road, there are no plans for many of the words you’re calling out to be screened,” the Amazon spokesperson insisted. “The only kinds of words that may be screened are ones that are offensive or harassing, which is intended to protect our team.” Last week, Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted to unionize — a first for the company. You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.
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