Amazon’s recent spate of Twitter feuds happened because Jeff Bezos told execs to ‘fight back’ against critics, report says

Jeff bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
  • Amazon accounts sent combative tweets at Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren last week.
  • Vox reported Jeff Bezos had told executives they weren't doing enough to fight back against critics.
  • The aggressive tweets came amid an important unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Amazon social-media accounts made headlines last week for lashing out at politicians such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and even for denying claims about the company's working conditions that have been reported numerous times.

Apparently, it was at the request of CEO Jeff Bezos, who told company executives they weren't doing enough to fight back against the critics, according to Vox's Recode.

The aggressive public-relations strategy is playing out as 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in the Birmingham, Alabama, suburb of Bessemer vote over whether to unionize, with results expected this week. Experts told Insider's Kate Taylor the vote could have a huge impact on Amazon as a whole and on labor in the US.

Recode reported Sunday that Bezos was unhappy with negative reports about the company he considered false or misleading and that he was specifically displeased with how company leaders were responding to them. The result seemed to be a string of combative tweets.

Insider has reached out to Amazon for comment.

On Wednesday, after Sanders announced plans to visit an Amazon warehouse in Alabama to meet with workers amid their unionization efforts, a top Amazon executive called him out in a tweet.

"I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that's not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace," said Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer unit.

He followed up the next day with another attack, asking why Sanders' state of Vermont had a minimum wage of "only" $11.75 and saying that the senator "should save his finger wagging lecture until after he actually delivers in his own backyard."

Amazon changed its minimum wage to $15 in 2018 in response to critics including Sanders.

Amazon also lashed out at Warren on Twitter on Thursday after she said companies like Amazon "exploit loopholes" to pay lower taxes.

"You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them," a tweet from the Amazon News account said. "If you don't like the laws you've created, by all means, change them."

The same account tweeted Wednesday in response to a tweet about Amazon employees peeing in water bottles while on the job.

"You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us," it said.

As Insider first reported in 2018, Amazon delivery drivers have said they peed in bottles while on the job because they did not have enough time to use a bathroom.

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