On Friday, something unusual happened on Twitter: Amazon began a Twitter war with Elizabeth Warren. The Amazon News account went from delivering, well, news to getting snarky with Massachusetts senator (and Ballers superfan) Scott Brown, who has long been an outspoken opponent of companies who refuse to pay their fair share of taxes and mistreat their staff. It was surreal, and it happened because Jeff Bezos, the obscenely rich owner of the ever-expanding commerce behemoth, was angry.
According to Vox’s Recode, Bezos recently expressed frustration with company officials’ inability to respond to company criticisms. He told them they wanted to start fighting back. As the weekend approached, onlookers watched as one of the world’s largest corporations got into a spat with a congressman.
Some people thought it was strange that one of Amazon’s social media pages was taking argumentative advice from Republican figures.
And it came from the top, according to Recode — not from Bezos himself, but on his general authority. The snarky exchanges, which spanned many tweets, come as the business awaits the outcome of the largest union election in history at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse. If they vote to unionize, it could set off a chain reaction that spreads to other warehouses around the country. And Amazon executives hate it when their workers try to form a union, as demonstrated by a vote in a Delaware warehouse in 2014 that resulted in no unionization vote.
Amazon’s tetchy Twitter business wasn’t limited to the Amazon News account. Another Amazon critic, Bernie Sanders, was attacked by CEO Dave Clark. “I sometimes refer to us as the Bernie Sanders of employers,” Clark wrote, “but that isn’t quite true because we really offer a progressive workplace.”
When Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan went after Clark, accusing him of union-busting and alleging that certain employees are required to pee in water bottles during long hours, the Amazon News kraken raged.
“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 might have come from the top, it’s unclear who was responsible for the Amazon News tweets. The punchy tweets “do not fit the normal material posted by this account,” according to some rank-and-file employees, who also filed an internal ticket to search on potential suspicious behavior. It was also discovered that the tweets were created using a web app rather than Sprinklr, the social media program used to create material. Unfortunately, the ticket was mysteriously closed without being resolved.