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

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A new report from The Intercept indicates that a new in-property messaging app for Amazon workers could ban a prolonged string of text, like “ethics.” Most of the text on the list are types that a disgruntled personnel would use — terms like “union” and “compensation” and “pay increase.” According to a leaked document reviewed by The Intercept, just one function of the messaging app (nonetheless in enhancement) would be “An automatic word monitor would also block a range of terms that could characterize likely critiques of Amazon’s performing disorders.” Amazon, of class, is not just a supporter of unions, and has spent (all over again, for every the Intercept) a great deal of income on “anti-union consultants.”

So, what to say about this naughty list?

On 1 hand, it’s effortless to see why a business would want not to provide staff members with a software that would assistance them do a little something not in the company’s interest. I suggest, if you want to arrange — or even merely complain — employing your Gmail account or Sign or Telegram, which is one particular detail. But if you want to reach that goal by working with an application that the organization delivers for interior company reasons, the enterprise maybe has a teensy little bit of a authentic grievance.

On the other hand, this is evidently a bad look for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be basically banning personnel from using words and phrases that (perhaps?) indicate they’re accomplishing one thing the company does not like, or that it’s possible just point out that the company’s employment requirements aren’t up to snuff.

But genuinely, what strikes me most about this prepare is how ham-fisted it is. I suggest, key terms? Critically? Don’t we previously know — and if we all know, then surely Amazon understands — that social media platforms make attainable considerably, much more refined means of influencing people’s behaviour? We’ve now noticed the use of Facebook to manipulate elections, and even our feelings. When compared to that, this supposed checklist of naughty words appears like Dr Evil trying to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions ought to truly be worried about is employer-furnished platforms that really don’t explicitly ban text, but that subtly form consumer experience based mostly on their use of individuals words. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly endeavor to impact a nationwide election that way, couldn’t an employer pretty believably intention at shaping a unionization vote in identical fasion?

As for banning the term “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The capacity to discuss openly about ethics — about values, about principles, about what your corporation stands for, is regarded by most students and consultants in the realm of enterprise ethics as rather essential. If you just can’t discuss about it, how likely are you to be to be in a position to do it?


(Thanks to MB for pointing me to this story.)

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