A new report from The Intercept implies that a new in-dwelling messaging app for Amazon workers could ban a very long string of text, including “ethics.” Most of the terms on the list are ones that a disgruntled personnel would use — terms like “union” and “compensation” and “pay raise.” In accordance to a leaked document reviewed by The Intercept, 1 element of the messaging application (still in improvement) would be “An automatic phrase monitor would also block a wide range of terms that could depict opportunity critiques of Amazon’s functioning situations.” Amazon, of class, is not just a supporter of unions, and has invested (again, for each the Intercept) a great deal of revenue on “anti-union consultants.”
So, what to say about this naughty listing?
On 1 hand, it’s quick to see why a business would want not to present personnel with a tool that would enable them do some thing not in the company’s interest. I mean, if you want to manage — or even just complain — working with your Gmail account or Signal or Telegram, that is just one matter. But if you want to achieve that target by utilizing an app that the corporation offers for inside business enterprise applications, the firm maybe has a teensy bit of a authentic criticism.
On the other hand, this is obviously a lousy appear for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be basically banning employees from making use of words and phrases that (perhaps?) suggest they’re carrying out a little something the organization doesn’t like, or that maybe just show that the company’s work specifications aren’t up to snuff.
But truly, what strikes me most about this prepare is how ham-fisted it is. I imply, key terms? Severely? Really do not we presently know — and if we all know, then certainly Amazon is aware — that social media platforms make probable substantially, a great deal additional refined ways of influencing people’s behaviour? We’ve previously witnessed the use of Facebook to manipulate elections, and even our emotions. In comparison to that, this intended listing of naughty text looks like Dr Evil attempting to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions ought to genuinely be anxious about is employer-delivered platforms that never explicitly ban words and phrases, but that subtly condition user encounter dependent on their use of individuals text. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly endeavor to affect a countrywide election that way, could not an employer rather believably goal at shaping a unionization vote in comparable fasion?
As for banning the word “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The skill to chat openly about ethics — about values, about principles, about what your enterprise stands for, is regarded by most scholars and consultants in the realm of business enterprise ethics as rather elementary. If you can not chat about it, how probably are you to be to be in a position to do it?
(Many thanks to MB for pointing me to this tale.)