Tesla reportedly paid a PR firm to monitor employees online in 2017 and 2018. The firm focused on research conducted by labour organizers through a Facebook group.
The core reasoning behind Tesla bringing on a PR firm is due to its staff trying to form a union at the company’s Fremont, California factory. According to invoices and documents obtained by CNBC, MikeWorldWide (MWW) PR tried to identify conversations regarding workplace conditions. The monitoring covered anything from unfair labour practices to a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Via the report, three Tesla employees who worked at the Fremont factory were advised not to connect with high ups online. This extended to staff joining online groups without surveying the members. Additionally, two current employees are also cautious about Tesla continuing to monitor social media posts to this day.
Copies of Tesla’s current communication policies have also been seen. These reportedly state that managing personnel should not look into an employee’s social media presence without a notable reason drawing back to the company. However, the company also states that employees should not address labour issues online. Instead, they are “more likely to resolve concerns about work” through the company directly.
News of this comes at a time when Tesla CEO Elon Musk is very adamant about free speech online. In his bid to acquire Twitter for $44 billion, Musk has been outspoken about how the social media platform should be used for free speech. Prior to approaching a deal to purchase Twitter, Musk used the platform to complain about the state of free speech. The question of whether “a new platform is needed” was also brought into question.
Ultimately, this led Musk to purchase 9.2 percent of Twitter and later reach a deal to own the company. However, the acquisition has not gone through fully at the time of writing.
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