As Amazon faces increased scrutiny ahead of the decision of its Bessemer, AL union vote this week, the company's Twitter presence has become increasingly aggressive.
While the combative series of tweets from the corporate account to Sen. Bernie Sanders and its denial that "pee bottles" were ever a thing drew most of the attention, others noticed the resurgence of Amazon's "ambassador" program, which pays workers to tweet about why they love the company.
One account that had the appearance of being a part of the program was "Darla," who said she was an Amazon warehouse employee. The Twitter account mentioned she was a middle-aged woman with two sons, and strongly opposed unionization. But Darla was revealed earlier this week to actually be Robby Appleton, a Chicago-based comedian and software engineer who told The Verge he started the account as a joke.
Amazon reported the account after "Darla's" tweets went viral and some users and media outlets noticed that something seemed off — The Verge reported that her profile picture was from an AI generator, and the timeline of her account didn't match when the actual Amazon ambassadors were introduced.
Appleton told Insider that he decided to create the Darla Twitter account last Friday. He said he saw some of the other ambassador accounts, and "wondered what it would look like if one of those accounts was defending their employer a little too passionately."
As for the name Darla? He picked it at random.
He provided proof of his ownership of the account to Insider, forwarding emails documenting the suspension from Twitter for impersonation. Twitter said in the email that the suspension will not be reversed.
His favorite tweet, he said, was also his most viral: Darla saying that she couldn't afford a union because she was "barely scraping by."
"Corporations put ungodly amounts of time and money into pretending they care about anything as much as they care about profits," Appleton told Insider.
"That's always tough to sell, but it must be impossible when the company is actively fighting the rights of their employees to organize and negotiate for better working conditions," he added. "Amazon's PR has been such a mess as a result, so I think Darla was able to say pretty much anything and it seemed believable."
He said that he hopes the workers in Bessemer are able to unionize, and that the effort there "drives momentum to do the same for workers all over."
The union vote has officially closed as of Monday, and the ballots are currently being counted. The verification of the vote is expected to take multiple days.