business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to Michael Sansolo's column yesterday about how falsely claiming to be "local" can hurt a brand, one MNB reader wrote:

There's a better word to use which is "community".   Part of our mission statement is "contributing to the community we serve".  I agree the word local has lost its roots.  (Pun intended)  It's much more about being community minded now in any case.  Wegman's in the example provided in the column was clearly focused on helping and supporting their community.  Community doesn't need a GPS. 

Yesterday we noted that In the wake of the pro-unionization vote that took place at one of its New York city warehouses, the New York Post reported that Amazon is updating an "internal social media-style app used by Amazon employees" so that certain words are blocked and flagged.

Words like "union,” “living wage” and “plantation."  Plus, “pay raise,” “prison,” “slave labor” and “restrooms."  The Post writes that "additional banned words reportedly include 'freedom,' 'bullying,' 'harassment,' 'petition,' 'diversity,' 'concerned' and 'robots,' as well as slurs and swear words.  Amazon managers would also be able to flag or suppress posts even if they don’t include banned words." 

I commented:

Amazon has signaled that it is likely to challenge the Staten Island vote, and I can understand that it is concerned about precedent.  But I think Amazon's leadership has to be careful about the optics.  It's anti-union rhetoric and actions will not be taking place in a vacuum … all of its customers are watching, and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Amazon could do something that would damage its image.

One MNB reader responded:

Most people who work anywhere these days work on either a company-supplied computer or in a company owned, on-site system.  When we log in to these systems or otherwise access our companies’ systems remotely, we quickly bypass the terms of use that basically state that this is the company’s computer, system, etc.  As such, they have the right to look at whatever we write in it and govern how we can and cannot use their system.  Like it or not, Amazon has a right to block out words from their systems.  They own it.  On the same note, who’s taking bets on how long Amazon’s Staten Island NY warehouse stays open?

I wasn't arguing Amazon's right to ban those words from its platform.  I'm just asking whether it will be smart to do so … it isn't like the ban will make the words go away.  There are, after all, other ways for people to communicate.

Amazon, as much as any company, ought to realize that.