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Amazon tweets trolling Congress were so bad that IT thought account was hacked


Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed in front of a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, US, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Enlarge / Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed in front of a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, US, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

As Amazon came under fire last week for working conditions in its warehouses and among its delivery drivers, the company went on the offensive on Twitter, aggressively replying to members of Congress.

Amazon’s tweets were so aggressive that one of the company’s own security engineers filed a support ticket—titled “Suspicious activity on @amazonnews Twitter account”—that aired concerns about whether the posts were evidence of the company’s Twitter account being hacked.

“These tweets are unnecessarily antagonistic (risking Amazon’s brand), and may be a result of unauthorized access by someone with access to the account’s credentials,” the ticket said. The engineer included links to eight tweets sent between March 23 and March 25.

The tweets targeted members of Congress, who have been critical of the company lately. “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” one of the tweets said in reply to a post by Rep. Mark Pocan. Another criticized a tweet from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was calling for breaking up the company.

The engineer who reported the tweets noted the aggressive tone and source of the postings as cause for concern.

Over the past two days, there have been two threads by @amazonnews in response to comments made by US Government officials that have received considerable attention. The tweets in question do not match the usual content posted by this account, and doesn’t seem to match the quality careful wording, and doesn’t report the same source-label (the offending tweets all report ‘Twitter Web App’ instead of ‘Sprinklr’).

Sprinklr is widely used by media organizations and PR teams and allows users to schedule posts to a number of social media platforms. Generally, if a company uses a tool like Sprinklr, any posts made using the Twitter website would be viewed as highly unusual.

Logs state that the ticket was closed because it was an “ongoing PR issue and does not require any technical support,” according to The Intercept. The support ticket was first reported by Recode.

Amazon’s PR team has been on the offensive under the direction of CEO Jeff Bezos, who has been riled by recent coverage of the company. Bezos pushed executives and the PR team to aggressively counter criticisms he judged to be misleading or inaccurate, according to Recode.

The last few weeks have been bruising ones for the company. Nearly 6,000 workers at an Alabama warehouse cast ballots to decide whether to unionize. That election concluded Monday, and vote counting is currently underway. The Biden administration named Lina Khan, a vocal Amazon critic, to the Federal Trade Commission on March 22. And the retailer is fighting a lawsuit in Texas that alleges it’s liable for a defective product that severely injured a toddler.





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