Jeff Bezos reportedly behind Amazon’s fake union Tweets

In an effort to silence criticism around its fulfillment centers, Amazon created a sleuth army of select employees that were trained and defended the e-commerce giant and the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, a new leaked document said.

Under the codename “Veritas,” Amazon created a small virtual army of “ambassadors” to defend the company back in 2018, The Intercept reported, which came to light this week when online criticism centered around Amazon’s treatment of workers at its warehouse was suddenly met by accounts defending the company.

The wave of tweets supporting Amazon comes while workers at the company’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse push to form a union, with votes currently being tallied, according to the report.

Amazon planned Veritas in anticipation of criticism surrounding its fulfillment centers, the report said. It sought workers at the fulfillment centers with a “great sense of humor” to combat critics in a “blunt manner,” The Intercept reported, which meant targeting critics and policymakers. The document says that candidates for the troll war needed to have a clean record with human resources and a strong performance background.

Per the New York Post:

Amazon thought the ideal ambassador would have three to four years of experience in a warehouse, but the memo noted that newer employees with just a year under their belts “can be very passionate and effective.”

“These associates will speak in the first person about their own experiences working in Amazon [fulfillment centers] and set the record straight — leaving no lie unchallenged and showing that people who actually know what it’s like to work in our FCs love their jobs,” the document says.

While Amazon wanted the workers to speak for themselves, the memo shows company officials wanted a standardized format for their Twitter handles and usernames. They mulled adding an emoji to the username to “give personality, for example a small box emoji,” it says.

The Guardian first spotted Amazon’s “FC ambassadors” in 2018 when employees form the fulfillment centers defended the company on Twitter. At that time, 16 accounts popped up on social media responding to politicians like Bernie Sanders, a critic of Amazon, and others.

Here’s an example of one of the tweets from 2018 (GeekWire has more here):

Earlier this week, new accounts popped up on Twitter including one under the handle @AmazonFCDarla. The account, which joined Twitter only a few days prior, said they didn’t like unions because “there’s no ability to opt out of dues.” The tweet, since deleted, was spotted by author Steven Greenhouse and quickly squashed some of the claims stated by the account.

An Amazon spokesperson told GeekWire that Darla isn’t an Amazon FC Ambassador, but a fake account. Twitter has since suspended several of the accounts this week, CBS News reported.

Here’s another example:

The war on Twitter was reportedly ordered from the top of Amazon: Jeff Bezos. Bezos expressed dissatisfaction with how company officials weren’t pushing back against criticisms against Amazon, Recode reported, leading to the barrage to tweets that targeted politicians in March.

Amazon announced earlier this year that Bezos will step down from his role as CEO of the company later this year. Andy Jassy, Amazon’s chief cloud executive, will transition into the role, according to the company.