Amazon is banning workers from saying “This is dumb”

Now, this is dumb.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
May 18, 2022

Amazon will prohibit employees from using the words ‘union,’ ‘hate,’ and ‘this is dumb.’ A long list of terms would be banned from a planned new worker messaging app, all of which appear to be related to working conditions. It should come as no surprise that Amazon, which is known for its anti-union and anti-worker rights policies, has now gone to even more Orwellian lengths.


The firm plans to ban and flag employee remarks on a proposed internal worker chat app that use particular phrases, including “pay raise,” “union,” “restroom,” and “this is dumb.” Some words describing labor conditions such as “slave labor,” “prison” and “plantation” will also be banned, along with phrases and words that might incite calls to unionize the workplace due to unacceptable and awful working conditions. Some of these words are “this is concerning,” “grievance,” “ethics,” “compensation,” “unfair,” “master,” “slave,” “freedom,” “diversity,” “injustice,” and “fairness.” Sounds a little dystopian if you ask us.


Amazon’s high-level staff decided on these words in November 2021 during a meeting. Executives discussed plans to launch an internal company social media site with a gamified incentives system, in which employees might earn badges for their hard work. However, employees appear to have been told that voicing even a smidgeon of displeasure with Amazon’s poor working conditions would ruin the app’s friendly atmosphere.


The main goal of the app, according to Amazon’s chief of global consumer business, Dave Clark, is to promote happiness and positivity among employees — hence the prohibition on negative terms like ‘this is dumb’ — although the majority of the banned words appear to be related to unions and working conditions. It’s unclear how the corporation plans to keep its employees happy if they are unable to freely express real workplace issues.


There have been numerous reports of bad working conditions at Amazon, ranging from tragically short break hours to a high rate of on-site injuries. Surprisingly, it was revealed in March 2021 that numerous staff had been forced to urinate in bottles in order to reach strict work goals, which may explain the executives’ determination to ban the word ‘restrooms.’ Many people have also claimed to have been handled like ‘robots’ or ‘slaves,’ two more forbidden phrases.


If the firm decides to go ahead and launch the platform — and moderate it as brutally as these leaked plans suggest — it’ll almost certainly face a massive backlash. After all, Amazon employees in Staten Island just decided to unionize, indicating that an app won’t be able to muffle the voices of tens of thousands of people.


In other related news, Amazon’s Alexa was launched into outer space.


Photo via Amazon