April 13, 2024


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Will Amazon Ban “Ethics”? | The Business Ethics Blog

Will Amazon Ban “Ethics”? | The Business Ethics Blog

A new report from The Intercept indicates that a new in-house messaging app for Amazon employees could ban a lengthy string of terms, which include “ethics.” Most of the phrases on the record are types that a disgruntled worker would use — phrases like “union” and “compensation” and “pay raise.” According to a leaked doc reviewed by The Intercept, 1 characteristic of the messaging application (however in improvement) would be “An automatic phrase monitor would also block a wide range of terms that could represent probable critiques of Amazon’s working conditions.” Amazon, of system, is not particularly a lover of unions, and has used (once more, per the Intercept) a lot of money on “anti-union consultants.”

So, what to say about this naughty checklist?

On one hand, it’s effortless to see why a business would want not to present employees with a resource that would assistance them do a little something not in the company’s desire. I indicate, if you want to arrange — or even simply just complain — utilizing your Gmail account or Signal or Telegram, that’s 1 factor. But if you want to obtain that intention by applying an app that the firm presents for inner organization functions, the firm probably has a teensy little bit of a respectable grievance.

On the other hand, this is obviously a poor look for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be literally banning workforce from utilizing words and phrases that (perhaps?) point out they are carrying out something the corporation doesn’t like, or that probably just reveal that the company’s work benchmarks aren’t up to snuff.

But actually, what strikes me most about this system is how ham-fisted it is. I necessarily mean, key terms? Critically? Don’t we by now know — and if we all know, then certainly Amazon appreciates — that social media platforms make possible a lot, significantly more sophisticated strategies of influencing people’s conduct? We have now seen the use of Fb to manipulate elections, and even our thoughts. As opposed to that, this supposed checklist of naughty terms seems like Dr Evil striving to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions must really be nervous about is employer-presented platforms that really do not explicitly ban text, but that subtly shape user encounter based on their use of people words and phrases. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly endeavor to influence a national election that way, couldn’t an employer fairly believably aim at shaping a unionization vote in similar fasion?

As for banning the term “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The means to communicate overtly about ethics — about values, about principles, about what your business stands for, is regarded by most scholars and consultants in the realm of business enterprise ethics as very elementary. If you cannot speak about it, how possible are you to be to be ready to do it?

(Many thanks to MB for pointing me to this tale.)