Amazon’s controversial ambassador program, through which it paid employees to tweet positive messages about the company’s working conditions, has been shuttered for good. The e-commerce giant silently ended the program at the end of 2021, sources tell the Financial Times.
Amazon has also made an effort to remove all existing ambassador posts from Twitter — the kind of sly move you might expect from a company entirely embarrassed by its internet presence. Executives decided to shut down the program after finding it had minimal real-world reach, the same sources said.
The ambassador program, which began in 2018, was started for the express purpose of undermining employee testimonies about poor warehouse working conditions. In the interim, those conditions have certainly not improved.
It seems Amazon has finally come to realize it won’t be able to fight horrifying worker narratives with tweets alone. Maybe, I don’t know, actually improving said conditions would be a better tactic?
A mess of a program — One might say Amazon’s ambassador program has been unsuccessful from its very start. From their very inception, the accounts utilized a very strange tone, leading many across Twitter to believe them to be bots rather than humans.
This theory was bolstered by the accounts’ quick responses to a plethora of tweets criticizing working conditions. The ambassadors’ poor attempts at humor didn’t help, either.
Early last year, the bot theory swelled into all-out confusion when someone else began creating actual bot accounts to reply to Amazon tweets. Amazon confirmed to various news outlets at the time that the accounts were not created by Amazon and were, therefore, fake. But at a glance it was nearly impossible to tell real ambassadors from copycats. Any remaining faith in the program turned to confusion.
Setting the record straight — The ambassador program was always meant to prove to the general public that working at Amazon was actually very comfortable and fun. That might’ve seemed a good idea on paper, but in practice it came across as pushy and disingenuous. It’s unlikely these ambassadors ever managed to convince a single person of Amazon’s kindness.
These days, Amazon is using other avenues to deny its unsafe working conditions. Warehouse worker spotlights and similar TV spots have replaced Twitter ambassadors. Though this PR route is slightly more convincing, it’s still very difficult to rectify with the many, many reports from workers that aren’t paid for by Amazon.
Paying for over-produced advertisements is a step up from lazy Twitter rebuttals, sure. But perhaps Amazon would find public opinion of its warehouse conditions would improve if it simply improved the warehouse conditions. Just a thought.