A new report from The Intercept implies that a new in-home messaging application for Amazon workforce could ban a prolonged string of phrases, including “ethics.” Most of the text on the list are ones that a disgruntled employee would use — terms like “union” and “compensation” and “pay elevate.” According to a leaked doc reviewed by The Intercept, one function of the messaging application (even now in development) would be “An automatic term monitor would also block a variety of conditions that could characterize possible critiques of Amazon’s operating problems.” Amazon, of class, is not accurately a lover of unions, and has used (yet again, for each the Intercept) a ton of money on “anti-union consultants.”
So, what to say about this naughty list?
On just one hand, it’s quick to see why a firm would want not to supply staff with a software that would assist them do a little something not in the company’s curiosity. I indicate, if you want to manage — or even merely complain — working with your Gmail account or Sign or Telegram, which is a person matter. But if you want to accomplish that aim by working with an app that the organization gives for inside business applications, the organization it’s possible has a teensy little bit of a reputable complaint.
On the other hand, this is clearly a terrible look for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be literally banning workforce from employing text that (it’s possible?) suggest they are performing anything the enterprise does not like, or that perhaps just suggest that the company’s employment requirements are not up to snuff.
But seriously, what strikes me most about this prepare is how ham-fisted it is. I signify, keywords? Significantly? Never we already know — and if we all know, then surely Amazon understands — that social media platforms make possible a great deal, substantially a lot more advanced ways of influencing people’s conduct? We have presently observed the use of Fb to manipulate elections, and even our thoughts. In contrast to that, this intended record of naughty words and phrases appears to be like Dr Evil hoping to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions should truly be anxious about is employer-delivered platforms that really do not explicitly ban terms, but that subtly form person practical experience based mostly on their use of these terms. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly attempt to affect a national election that way, couldn’t an employer really believably aim at shaping a unionization vote in comparable fasion?
As for banning the term “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The capacity to communicate brazenly about ethics — about values, about rules, about what your enterprise stands for, is regarded by most scholars and consultants in the realm of company ethics as very fundamental. If you can’t chat about it, how most likely are you to be to be equipped to do it?
(Thanks to MB for pointing me to this tale.)