On Friday, a strange thing happened on social media: Amazon started a Twitter war with Elizabeth Warren. The Amazon News account went from delivering, well, the news to getting snarky with the Massachusetts senator (and Ballers superfan), who’s long been a fierce critic of corporations who avoid paying their full taxes and treat their employees poorly. It was very surreal, and the reason it happened is because Jeff Bezos, the unimaginably wealthy owner of the ever-swelling commerce giant, was mad.
As per Vox’s Recode, Bezos had recently expressed dissatisfaction that company officials weren’t pushing back against company criticisms. The message he gave them was to start fighting back. And so, as the weekend loomed, bystanders watched as one of the world’s biggest companies got snippy with a lawmaker.
This is extraordinary and revealing. One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she’s going to break up an American company so that they can’t criticize her anymore. https://t.co/Nt0wcZo17g
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 26, 2021
Some found it surreal that one of Amazon’s social media accounts was taking some argumentative tips from GOP leaders.
Absolutely in awe at Amazon's decision to pivot its online communication srategy to "our corporate logo now does even more charmless versions of Dan Crenshaw posts." The biggest and richest company in the country spending all day quote-tweeting "This is extraordinary! Mods?"
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) March 26, 2021
And, according to Recode, it came from the top — not from Bezos personally but on his general authority. The snippy back-and-forths, which spread over several tweets, come as the company is awaiting the results of the largest union election in history, at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Should they vote to unionize, it could start off a chain of events that could spread to such warehouses nationwide. And Amazon execs do not like when their employees even attempt to unionize, such as a case in 2014 in which a vote in a Delaware warehouse ended without a vote to unionize.
The Amazon News account wasn’t the only bit of tetchy Twitter business out of Amazon. Exec Dave Clark went after Bernie Sanders, another Amazon critic. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers,” Clark wrote, “but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace.”
1/3 I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace https://t.co/Fq8D6vyuh9
— Dave Clark (@davehclark) March 24, 2021
When Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan went after Clark, calling them out for union-busting and over workers who’ve who’s claimed some have to pee in water bottles during demanding shifts, he awakened the Amazon News kraken.
1/2 You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” the Amazon News account retorted. “If that were true, nobody would work for us.” They soon went after Warren, too,
Though the pugilistic tone may have originated at the top, it’s not clear who, exactly, was writing the Amazon News tweets. Some rank-and-file employees expressed dismay at the tweets, even putting in an internal ticket to check on possible suspicious activity, saying that the punchy tweets “do not match the usual content posted by this account.” It was also discovered that said tweets were made over a web app rather than Sprinklr, the social media software that usually generates content. Alas, the ticket was mysteriously closed without resolution.