Amazon's Planned App for Workers May Ban Words Like 'Union' and 'Pay Raise,' Report Says

The tech giant, however, tells The Intercept that the app could change significantly or may never launch at all.

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David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
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David Anders
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Amazon's planned messaging app for employees would reportedly ban certain words or phrases related to poor working conditions and job dissatisfaction.

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Amazon has reportedly discussed plans to create an internal messaging app for employees meant to boost morale and celebrate wins. However, the app would also block phrases related to labor unions and critiques of working conditions at Amazon, according to a report Monday from The Intercept.

The planned app may block words like "union," "diversity" and even "restrooms," and flag employees who attempt to use those words, The Intercept reported, citing internal company documents. The app, dubbed Shout-Outs, originated as a way for Amazon employees to communicate, celebrate successes and "foster happiness," according to The Intercept. 

The report about the app and its blocked words comes just days after Amazon employees in Staten Island, New York, voted to join the Amazon Labor Union, effectively establishing Amazon's first union warehouse in the US. The labor union, created by current and former workers, formed in 2020 when employees sought better safety precautions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's since gained momentum advocating for improved working conditions. 

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but spokesperson Barbara Agrait told The Intercept that "this particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all." Agrait added that if the app does launch, "many" of the words highlighted in the report may not be screened. 

Read more: Amazon to Face More Labor Organizing After Historic Union Win

According to The Intercept, additional words and phrases that may be blocked include "stupid," "grievance," "slave labor," "this is dumb," "ethics," "unfair" and more than 30 others that one of the internal documents says may "generate negative sentiments" among workers. 

The Shout-Outs app is reportedly slated to launch under a pilot program later this month.