Amazon is monitoring conversations with Amazon Flex drivers in dozens of private Facebook groups in the U.S., U.S. and Spain, according to an internal network tool and reports left on the public Internet. According to documents left online, Amazon employees are regularly receiving reports about social media posts on their Flex drivers’ nominal private pages and using them to diagnose problems and monitor, for example, drivers “planning any strikes or protests against Amazon.”
Among the documents left online is a document called “Social Media Monitoring”, which lists off-site Amazon Flex drivers’ Facebook groups and websites around the world, as well as open Flex driver Subreddits, and the Twitter keyword “AmazonFlex.” Forty-three of these Facebook groups are run by drivers in different U.S. cities.
“The following social forums mentioned in the table will be monitored during the social media process.” The document reads. The Monitored Facebook group includes dozens of “Los Angeles Amazon Flex Drivers,” “Amazon Flex Drivers,” and “Suspended Amazon Drivers.”
Amazon appears to be asking employees to keep such surveillance confidential. A login page included in the document says: “Information about different posts reported from various social forums is confidential. Do not share without proper certification. Screenshots of posts/comments within the site are mostly from closed Facebook groups. If it falls within the scope of any of our delivery partners, it will have an adverse effect. Do not share without proper certification. (The full list of monitored social media pages is embedded below.) )
According to a file on the site called “Social Listening SOP,” the posts are monitored by something called the Propaganda Operations Social Listening Team. According to the document, people listening to the team should “capture posts written by Amazon Flex drivers (known as “delivery partners” or “DPs”), classify them, investigate them (or tag them), and add them to the report.”
Posts can be monitored in real time on Live tools and divided into dozens of different categories, including App Issues, Media Coverage, Marketing, DP Feedback, and more. Each of these categories has further sub-categories that become more specific, referring to issues drivers may face, such as dealing with a non-compliance customer, an unused Amazon support staff, apps and GPS issues, and dozens of other issues.
Amazon is systematically monitoring, classifying and analyzing private social media pages used by its Flex drivers, who are independent contractors who ship packages and groceries to Amazon and Whole Foods supermarkets in more than 50 U.S. cities and several other countries, the documents show. These employees use their own vehicles. As an independent contractor, Amazon Flex drivers are not eligible for medical benefits, sick pay, overtime, worker compensation, or other benefits guaranteed by Amazon employees. Amazon also relies on contract workers hired by small companies, known as delivery service partners, to deliver packages.
“Part-time economy” workers working for many companies have used private Facebook groups to organize industrial action and strikes in large, unsealed teams.
The drivers’ questions will be collated into reports detailing specific posts and the resulting actions of Amazon, which will be delivered to some Amazon employees. Some posts are “upgraded” to individual teams and Amazon leadership. According to reports left online, most of the problems appear to be to track problems with apps or Amazon Flex projects so that Amazon can address them. For example, one Flex driver posted that they were asked to deliver packages on two different continents. The post was captured by the tool and reported to Flex leadership.
But other posts identified negative media posts by Flex workers, drivers’ “complaints” and perceived emotions (“positive” or “complaints”) in their posts. Possible post categories that Amazon wants to know include news articles that “warehouse employees (are) complaining about poor working conditions” and “strikes/protests.” DP plans to conduct any strikes or protests against Amazon”, as well as a category called “DP Contacted by Researchers – DP Contacted by Researchers for Projects/Papers.” Other categories are designed to identify posts by workers “complaining that Amazon took their tip” and any robot or system games used by drivers to get more shifts.
” (Delivery partners) keep talking about their disgrate around block rates and price surges,” one report said. Analysis in another report found that drivers were unhappy that they no longer got as many “blocks” or delivery shifts as possible.
“Democrats are complaining about not receiving blocks,” the report said. “A lot of people think that since the holidays, blocks have decreased and the amount has been taken away by white vans. They were confirmed by asking the station staff. There is also a minority view that not all stations have noticed a reduction in concessions. Some are definitely affected, while others are just working properly. “
Other posts captured and considered noteworthy were a tweet that shared a Splinter news article entitled ‘Amazon Flex drivers say we’re being treated like animals’ and a Facebook post about a Fox 5 Atlanta article about an Amazon delivery truck driver being held at gunfire.
“DP is pleased to have released his first-ever good experience with the program,” another report said. “DP has posted negatively about Amazon GPS/Maps,” another report said.
The domain name currently pointing to the Amazon panel is registered by a person who is also listed as a contact for a business based in India. This person did not respond to an emailed request for comment. The site’s profile shows that, at least until February this year, it displayed an ad for an entertainment company. It is not clear why this particular domain name was wrong to point to the Amazon panel at the time of writing, or whether it was used by people associated with the panel itself.
However, it is clear that this panel and report are directly linked to Amazon. The tool has an “owner” page that explains who works in the team, as well as their internal Amazon chat handles. It also has photos of teams working, as well as their names. Motherboard is able to cross-reference the photos and names of several people listed on the owner’s page with their LinkedIn pages and other publicly named photos. According to their LinkedIn page, many of the employees doing the work are current employees of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, while others work at Amazon in India.
An Amazon spokesman had no immediate comment when contacted to show it the tool. Facebook group administrators and several drivers mentioned in the report did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Tuesday, Motherboard reported that Amazon was hiring two intelligence analysts to track the organization within the company. One of the hiring revelations said the company needed an analyst to focus on sensitive and confidential topics, “including ILO threats against the company.” While the two lists refer to other threats, they focus on “organized labour” and are mentioned several times. According to Amazon’s own recruitment portal, one of the offers has been available since January.
The company removed the information from its portal aftermedia published reports about the job offer, which a spokesman said was “not an accurate description of the role – it was wrong and has since been corrected.” “