Amazon has once again been forced to defend its army of 'fulfilment centre ambassadors' (FC ambassadors) — the warehouse workers it pays to write positively about its working conditions and defend criticism online.
It was first revealed last year that the retail giant was compensating a group of employees in the US to enthusiastically defend the retailer on Twitter following a series of damaging reports about its warehouse working conditions.
Earlier this week, the spotlight was shone on the "bizarre" accounts once more, with Twitter users pointing to the use of "robotic" or "scripted" language as evidence that employees were being "paid to lie".
The issue was brought to the fore after user Diana Wild tweeted at an official Amazon news account demanding the company treat staff better.
In return, she received responses from a series of FC ambassadors, who made statements including: "Everything is fine"; "I am not a robot"; and "We're not paid to say that we like our job"
Everything is fine, I don't think there is anything wrong with the money I make or the way I am treated at work
— Dylan - Amazon FC Ambassador (@AmazonFCDylan) August 14, 2019
lol nooo!! we're not paid to say that we like our job. The FCA role is to educate others about what we do on our day to day @ amazon. Its just happened that we enjoy what we do. — Cindi - Amazon FC Ambassador (@AmazonFCCindi) August 14, 2019
The thread went viral, with people criticising Amazon's "dark PR" and creating parody accounts mocking the scheme.
Y’all Amazon FC Ambassadors still sure you’re not bots lmao. https://t.co/6BUSWliayp
— Ryan - Amazon FC Ambassador (@stormflowercos) August 16, 2019
Every single tweet by one of those "Amazon FC Ambassadors" has the exact same energy as someone answering the door with a gun to their head and telling the cops that everything is fine — hot tub state machine (@angryaboutbikes) August 15, 2019
Some even questioned whether the ambassadors were human, leading Amazon to release a statement.
The e-commerce giant told BBC News its ambassadors were members of staff who post their personal experiences on social media.
A spokesperson said: "Fulfilment centre (FC) ambassadors are employees who work in our FCs and share facts based on their personal experience.
"It's important that we do a good job educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfilment centres, and the FC ambassador programme is a big part of that, along with the FC tours we provide."
Amazon's warehouse conditions have been subject to many negative headlines over the years – including reports staff have been left to suffer after injury
In the UK, an undercover author claimed to have witnessed staff urinate in bottles for fear they would be punished if they took a break.