Amazon says it’s serious about improving the safety of both its workers and those across industries. On Thursday, the company announced that it has entered a five-year partnership with the National Safety Council to create new ways to prevent common workplace injuries related to workers’ muscles, joints, and spinal discs.
The odd part of the entire announcement? It doesn’t address the grueling warehouse conditions Amazon workers have claimed the company created and continues to enforce.
Instead, Amazon says its planning to contribute $12 million to the NSC to help establish an international advisory council, conduct research, provide small businesses and universities grants, incubate and foster new innovations, and share solutions with companies across industries.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees, and this partnership will allow us to dive deep into the best way to reduce [musculoskeletal disorders],” Heather MacDougall, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide workplace health and safety, said in a statement.
But let’s not forget, this pledge is coming from a company whose drivers have said they’ve resorted to peeing in empty water bottles to meet delivery quotas. It’s also the company at which warehouse workers have complained about too short and too few bathroom breaks. The workers also have said that their environment is unsafe and that every move is monitored to maximize the number of packages workers process per day.
“I’m a human being, not a robot,” a former Amazon warehouse worker told The Guardian last year.
And let’s not forget Amazon’s big union busting efforts that it has successfully deployed, most recently in Bessemer, Ala., against workers aiming to improve conditions.
Amazon regularly pushes back on the narrative that its warehouse workers and drivers are treated poorly. Instead, it flaunts its $15 minimum wage—compared to the $7.25 federal minimum wage—and healthcare benefits it provides for employees. And in March on Twitter, the company refuted the claim that drivers peed in bottles saying, “If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
But evidence suggests one thing is clear: It’s not uncommon for Amazon warehouse workers to get injured on the job.
An investigation by The Washington Post found that serious injuries to workers at its warehouses happened more often than at other large employers with warehouse facilities. Ultimately, 5.9 serious incidents occurred for every 200,000 hours workers logged, the Post reports. But it’s unclear how many of those injuries were caused by Amazon’s own lofty performance metrics.
Amazon’s partnership with the NSC will hopefully do a lot a good for warehouse workers across the nation. But the low-hanging fruit for Amazon seems pretty obvious: Fix the problems you’ve created before you try to solve those of others.
Proposing a pricey penalty. Speaking of Amazon, the tech giant could face the largest fine stemming from the European Union’s privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation, better known as GDPR. The Luxembourg’s data-protection commission CNPD reportedly said the GDPR violations relate to Amazon’s collection and use of customers’ personal data, according to The Wall Street Journal. The cost of the possible fine? More than $425 million. To put that in perspective, Amazon made $108.52 billion in revenue during the first quarter—225 times more than the proposed fine.
Attention, all gamers! Gaming company Electronic Arts is the latest company to be attacked by hackers. The company said the hackers stole the source code for popular soccer video game FIFA 21 as well as the Frostbite game engine that powers several games. However, it said no player data was taken. In better gaming news, Microsoft is planning to expand its subscription gaming service called Xbox Game Pass to work with smart TVs and a new streaming device the company is developing.
A new Venmo rival? Facebook Messenger is rolling out Venmo-like QR codes to help users pay each other even if they’re not friends on Facebook. The feature is first debuting with users in the U.S. and is accessible by tapping the Facebook Pay tab on Messenger. Users will have to connect their debit card, PayPal account, reloadable prepaid card, or government-issued bank card to send or receive money from friends. But Facebook has an uphill battle if it plans to challenge its growing rival Venmo. The PayPal service processed about $51 billion in payments during the first quarter, an increase of 63%.
Special delivery. Delivery people who work for U.K.-based food delivery service Deliveroo may soon do more than hand customers their burgers and French fries. The company has partnered with the U.K. crime prevention organization Neighbourhood Watch, which will offer delivery people optional training in how to monitor the areas they serve for criminal activity. In other gig company news, Chinese ride-hailing company and Uber-rival Didi filed for an initial public offering on Thursday. Didi has yet to reveal how much the company plans to raise.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In an earlier Data Sheet, I pointed you to a story explaining the effects augmented reality filters have on young users’ self-images. Users, particularly young girls, were so fond of their AR-altered images, they were increasingly less satisfied with their natural faces. But now, there appears to have been another problem, specifically on TikTok: A beauty-enhancing filter was applied to users’ images by default. The issue was written off as a temporary glitch by TikTok, according to the MIT Technology Review. But even more disturbing? It’s not temporary on some apps outside the country, University of Wisconsin PhD candidate Amy Niu tells the Review.
“She pointed out that in China, and some other places, some apps add a subtle beauty filter by default. When Niu uses apps like WeChat, she can only really tell that a filter is in place by comparing a photo of herself using her camera with the image produced in the app.
A couple of months ago, she said, she downloaded the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin. ‘When I turned off the beauty mode and filters, I can still see an adjustment to my face,’ she said.
Having beauty filters in an app isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Niu said, but app designers have a responsibility to consider how those filters will be used, and how they will change the people who use them.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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BEFORE YOU GO
As you probably have figured out by now, I’m a big fan of the streaming services. But the latest debut from Netflix surprised me.
On Thursday, Netflix introduced a new shopping site, Netflix.shop, which will sell branded products related to its series and movies. The New York Times says you can expect things like $60 throw pillows boasting Netflix’s thriller series Lupin or Netflix-branded boxers.
All in all, not a bad idea for super fans of the streaming content. So what say you? Up for a possible Tiger King blanket or perhaps a Bridgerton sweater? I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a chess set that resembles the one from the final match in The Queen's Gambit.
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