Amazon Workers' Facebook Groups Are Being Bugged to Track Protest Plans

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Amazon workers have been vocal about their dangerous working conditions since the start of the pandemic, leading them to go on strike and stage protests to push for change.

However, Vice has reported on September 1 that the company launched surveillance on various social media groups of delivery drivers for Amazon Flex across the US, Spain, and the UK. The report said that an internal tool and reports, which were mistakenly left online show how the corporate regularly get updates on drivers' posts in their closed Facebook groups, public tweets, and even Reddit threads.


(Photo : Morning Brew/Unsplash)

The tool is being used to identify drivers who share negative posts against Amazon, complain about working conditions, and plan to hold protests against the company. It checks various conversations on different social media platforms, including in private Facebook groups, Amazon Flex subreddits, and tweets with the "Amazon Flex" keyword.

Amazon Flex drivers and warehouse workers have been complaining about low wages, lack of benefits, and pressure to work under unsafe conditions. Various strikes were organized in various cities in New York, Minnesota, Illinois, California, Italy, and Spain.

Despite the company's hostile handling of the workers' call for change, Amazon workers continue to become more vocal about their dangerous conditions during the pandemic, repeatedly staging protests to achieve the change they want.

In recent months, the company has been firing protest organizers, using heat maps to track the union's activities, and destroying employees' efforts to stimulate safety awareness, particularly those involving the work environment.

Meanwhile, the corporate's tool and reports categorize drivers by the posts they share in social media. For instance, they are sorted by complaining about poor working conditions, approached by researchers for academic studies, shared links to negative media coverage, or "planning for any strike or protest against Amazon."

Amazon Continues To Hire As Demand Soars During Coronavirus Shutdown

(Photo : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 14: An Amazon Flex driver loads their personal vehicle with packages outside the 1.2 million-square-foot BWI2 Amazon Fulfillment Center in the Chesapeake Commerce Center April 14, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. While some workers across the country have expressed concern about what steps Amazon is doing to protect workers from COVID-19, the online retailer hired 100,000 people in March says it wants to add another 75,000 full and part-time jobs due to rising demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon described the contents of the tool as "classified." There is also a note saying: "DO NOT SHARE without proper authentication." Also, the note said that most of the screenshots for posts or comments are from closed Facebook groups, which "will have a detrimental effect if it falls within the reach of any of our Delivery partners."

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Advocacy group scrutinizes Amazon's surveillance of workers in social media

Meanwhile, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, Open Markets Institute published a research paper issued on Monday, August 31. According to the report, Amazon uses tools like item scanners, navigation software, wristbands, security cameras, thermal cameras, and recorded footage in monitoring its workforce in stores and warehouses.

The paper questions Amazon's actions and urges the National Labor Relations Board to prohibit those actions while suggesting that companies like Amazon should get approval from federal agencies before using non-invasive tracking measures, even if they do not harm workers. More importantly, the researchers also noted that the Labor authorities should prohibit surveillance and its use to prevent employees to unionize.

Amazon has not yet issued a comment about the study or the complaints against its surveillance efforts.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' net worth has already breached the $200 billion mark on August 27. He is the first-ever person to reach that mark, keeping him as the world's richest person in history.

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Written by CJ Robles

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