Tesla workers at the company’s Buffalo Gigafactory have accused Twitter of shadowbanning their newly made union account, according to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The group had announced their intention to unionize on February 14th and posted a statement on Twitter about “seeking a voice on the job.” However, the group’s tweets stopped appearing in search results by the next day, indicating that their account had been shadowbanned. The group alleges that CEO Elon Musk and/or his representatives caused the Union’s Twitter account to be shadowbanned from the platform.
Tesla chief Elon Musk is known to be a staunch union critic, and in 2018, he tweeted that there was nothing stopping Tesla workers from joining a union. The NLRB ruled that the tweet violated labour laws, deeming it as a threat that employees would be giving up company-paid stock options if they unionize. Musk has yet to delete his tweet, as Tesla is currently appealing the labour board’s decision.
The workers behind this particular campaign are responsible for labelling data from Tesla’s Autopilot technology. They’ve asked the company for better working conditions, including an end to monitoring their keystrokes to determine how much time they spend on each task. They’ve also accused the company of illegally terminating employees “in retaliation for… and to discourage union activity.” Tesla denies these allegations and said that the terminated Autopilot employees were low performers.
The group’s allegations against Twitter highlight the challenges that workers face when attempting to unionize in today’s social media-driven world. It also raises questions about the role of social media companies in labour organizing efforts and their responsibility to remain neutral. As of now, Twitter has not commented on the complaint filed with the NLRB.