After an embarrassing two years, Amazon’s FC Ambassador program is finally dead. The company will no longer enlist warehouse employees to tweet about loving their job. As reported by The Financial Times, senior executives at Amazon were “unhappy with the scheme’s poor reach” and decided to quietly remove all signs that FC Ambassadors ever existed.
Amazon launched the FC Ambassador campaign following reports of poor workplace conditions throughout the late 2010s. As you may remember, Amazon workers had to pee in bottles throughout 2019 due to the lack of bathroom breaks. The company was also widely criticized for the physical demands it put on workers, its automated firing system, and its patent for an “employee transfer cage.”
Employees that were roped into the FC Ambassador program logged into Amazon-made Twitter accounts to shoot down criticisms of the company and share positive experiences with pay, bathroom breaks, decor, and more. But as you might expect, the program essentially had the opposite effect that it was supposed to. It’s hard to believe that someone is speaking earnestly when they’re on the clock and logged into a Twitter account labeled “Amazon FC Ambassador.”
We reached out to Amazon for a comment on this story, though the company chose to tell us about its daily warehouse tours instead:
The best way for people to know what happens behind the scenes at Amazon is to see for themselves — that’s why we’re focused on giving live tours daily across the US and Europe. Our 2022 Tours resume on February 1, and you can sign up at www.amazonfctours.com/virtualtours or by searching Amazon FC Tours.
An Amazon spokesperson also clarified that FC Ambassadors did not receive additional pay for their duties. They made their job’s normal wage when tweeting pro-Amazon messages related to bathroom breaks, motivational poster design, unions, and so on.
Speaking of unions, FC Ambassadors often tweeted about how unionization could negatively impact their job. While it’s impossible to know the FC Ambassadors’ personal opinions, they often focused on a small set of talking points—a sign that anti-union tweets were coordinated by the company to sway employees’ opinions. Amazon may have abandoned the FC Ambassador program due to its failure in this area, as multiple warehouses are now organizing to vote on unionization. (To be fair, the FC Ambassador campaign was an outright failure in all of its pursuits. Amazon is also too tight-lipped to discuss the motivations behind this program.)
In a way, we’re going to miss the FC Ambassador program. It was bizarre and bone-chilling, for sure, but it was also a bit reassuring. Amazon failed to shift public opinion in its favor, and some FC Ambassador accounts (like @AmazonFCRafael) were so poorly handled that they became memes.
Source: The Financial Times