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There’s something fishy about Amazon’s FC Ambassadors

Nobody's this content with their job.
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NurPhoto via Getty Images

Amazon's really been on a roll lately. Well, in terms of becoming an actual supervillain organization. They've already got multiple HQs, can bully (most) local governments into acquiescing to their various whims, are making deals with law enforcement agencies across the country, are developing and distributing facial recognition technology that can now sense your fear, and are building out a massive state surveillance apparatus thanks to everybody's apparent inability to get off the couch to see who's at the door. Of course it's the pizza guy, it's been 30 minutes or less.

But just because Amazon is one of the world's richest companies doesn't mean much of that gilding actually makes it down to the rank and file folks who make the machine run. If recent reports, such as John Oliver's segment from July below are to be believed, working in one of the conglomerates's many fulfillment centers can be a sisyphean task for both the feet and the bladder. Workers have been incited to strike, because their working conditions have been so "dehumanizing." But that's not how Amazon's Fulfillment Center Ambassadors see it.

Amazon launched the FC Ambassador program in August 2018 as a means of managing its reputation online. The program asks full-time employees to go onto Twitter and share their experiences working at a fulfillment center. However, their timelines, which often sport gushing reviews of the job and #LovethatFCLife hashtags, rarely reflect the brutal conditions described by the NY Post.

"The most important thing is that they've been here long enough to honestly share the facts based on personal experience," an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider in 2018. "It's important that we do a good job of educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfillment centers, and the FC Ambassador program is a big part of that along with the fulfilment center tours we provide." For example, you have Carol from Kent, Washington. She's been a picker since 2017 and enjoys "Movies, SciFi Books, Music, Gaming." What she doesn't enjoy is following any other accounts. Neither does Dylan. He's a PIT Operator at the PHL4 center, loves "Sports, Music, Food and anything Louisiana" and is apparently the youngest looking 55 year old to ever walk the planet Earth -- a point that did not go unnoticed.

The FC Ambassador accounts are also oddly uniform in their behavior. All of the accounts are standardized with the same formatting, team members address nearly identical talking points, and they'll quickly swarm in support of one another when getting resistance or pushback from average Twitter users as @rulesObeyer discovered on Wednesday.

Her negative response to an Amazon tweet inviting the public to go on a tour of their local fulfilment center unleashed a barrage of responses from no less than seven FC Ambassadors. By the end, the Ambassadors were attempting to prove their case by linking to the same fulfilment center tour post that set off the entire exchange. Unsurprisingly, Twitter was subsequently flooded with parody accounts after the thread went viral.

This isn't the first time that the Ambassador program has been accused of shady dealings. In January, NYT tech correspondent Karen Weise noted that a number of accounts had been handed over to new employees.

When asked for comment, Amazon released the following statement to Engadget: "FC ambassadors are employees who work in our FCs and share facts based on personal experience. It's important that we do a good job educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfillment centers, and the FC ambassador program is a big part of that along with the FC tours we provide. This year alone, more than 100,000 guests have come to see for themselves what it's like to work inside one of our FCs. If you haven't visited, I recommend it."

And thus, our story has begun snacking on its own tail with Amazon pitching a tour of its shipping warehouse as comment for a story about the fallout from Amazon pitching a tour of its shipping warehouse. But don't worry, Amazon is already hard at work in its automation efforts and expects robots to be running its warehouses instead of us meat sacks in just ten (or) more years.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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