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Amazon reportedly plans to ban words like ‘union’ and ‘living wage’ in its upcoming staff chat app

If you are an Amazon employee and looking forward to the chat app the retail giant is working on, be aware that there are some words you are not allowed to say on the platform.

Censoring on social networks is not a new concept since some words are better left unspoken. However, it is possible to take things to the extreme. Depending on who you ask, Amazon might be straying into extreme territory with the list of banned words on its plant workers’ chat app.

The content filter Amazon plans to install will watch out for and flag words that seemingly appear harmless. The word list includes “union,” “slave labor,” “grievance,” “living wage,” etc. 

According to internal documents seen by The Intercept, there are even more such words that staff is not allowed to type and send to their colleagues.

The Intercept claims that Amazon started looking into creating a company-wide social-media platform exclusively for its staff. It is gathered that the global head of consumer business, Dave Clark, suggested the app should have a deeper level of interaction with staff members, like some dating apps, instead of simply being a massive social hub. The planned app would let workers praise their colleagues for their work with Shout-Outs, which would be integrated with Amazon’s gamification program. The program already rewards employees with praises for their productivity with the use of virtual stars and badges.

However, during the deliberations for the chat app, some executives highlighted the potential dangers of social media. To protect Amazon’s interests, the decision was made to track posts on the platform. Apparently consulting after the meeting, the executives came up with the banned words list.

You can’t use profanities, which is not surprising as it is still a corporate environment. However, the list extends to other categories of words, some of which raise an eyebrow. For instance, you can’t send “unfair,” “slave,” “master,” “fairness,” “pay raise,” “ethics,” “diversity,” etc. Apparently, Amazon also frowns at phrases like “this is dumb” and “this is concerning.

It would seem Amazon is attempting to ban the discussion of some hot topics among its staff. The matter of unions, for example, is a touchy area between staff and management as there have been votes at different Amazon facilities on whether to unionize or not. In fact, workers at a Staten Island warehouse in New York have voted to form the first Amazon workers’ union, while a similar vote in Bessemer, Alabama, would be decided in court because the results were too close. The vote in Alabama was the second attempt after the National Labor Relations Board alleged Amazon broke laws during the first attempt. Another Staten Island warehouse is currently voting.

Preventing staff from chatting about it looks suspect and like an effect to control the narrative.

Meanwhile, Barbara Agrait, spokesperson for Amazon, told The Verge, “Our teams are always thinking about new ways to help employees engage with each other. This particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all. 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 only kinds of words that may be screened are ones that are offensive or harassing, which is intended to protect our team.”

Written by HackerVibes

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