Amazon is finding its voice.
The notoriously quiet company known for keeping its head down, focusing on the work, and rarely commenting on controversy is whistling a new tune. Over the past few weeks, Amazon has been vocal on Twitter, in particular calling out prominent politicians who criticize the company.
The latest: On Monday morning, Amazon tweeted a video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In an interview with ABC News, the progressive firebrand accused Amazon of paying its warehouse workers “starvation wages” and criticized the company for seeking billions of dollars in government subsidies.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) June 17, 2019
Amazon shot back, saying Ocasio-Cortez is “just wrong.” Ironically, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour last year in response to a steady drumbeat of criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, a mentor of Ocasio-Cortez.
Fighting words: Amazon’s clapback at Ocasio-Cortez isn’t an isolated incident. Last week, Amazon responded to former Vice President Joe Biden when he said that “no company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers.”
We’ve paid $2.6B in corporate taxes since 2016. We pay every penny we owe. Congress designed tax laws to encourage companies to reinvest in the American economy. We have. $200B in investments since 2011 & 300K US jobs. Assume VP Biden’s complaint is w/ the tax code, not Amazon. https://t.co/uPUv1Tzlma
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) June 13, 2019
Earlier this year, Amazon got into a testy back-and-forth with Sen. Elizabeth Warren over allegations that the company uses its dominance to gain an edge over third-party sellers in its marketplace.
Oh boy. Here are the facts:
First, there are multiple reports that Amazon is using the data it collects to copy successful goods sold by small businesses on the Amazon Marketplace and sell its own branded version. https://t.co/x6LklklPPQ https://t.co/owUdVGgI6F
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 24, 2019
Driving the shift: Big tech companies are sensitive to the changing tide of public opinion. Americans have grown skeptical of Big Tech in the wake of privacy scandals, data breaches, sexual harassment allegations and — perhaps most importantly — antitrust concerns. U.S. regulators have launched an antitrust probe into Amazon, Apple, and Google. Warren is taking the most aggressive approach, with a proposal to break up Big Tech. The antitrust issue appears to be a particularly sensitive spot for Amazon.
Why it matters: For years, Amazon has been a devout follower of the “show don’t tell” dogma, preferring to focus on customers over engaging with the media and politicians. The abrupt tack shows that talk of regulation is getting under Amazon’s skin. Frustration with Big Tech is a rare bipartisan issue. Politicians seeking the presidency in 2020 will continue to take advantage of it as the election draws nearer — and it’s not just talk. The U.S. antitrust inquiry shows that the issues raised on the campaign trail have real teeth.