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Union Twitter, Big Chocolate, and Fair Labor

Social media and the social justice movement
December 11, 2020

What happens when your Instagram followers care more about your employees than you do? For many labor movements in :checks notes: ahem, Union Twitter, employees’ voices are being amplified through social media. It’s timely as I’m currently catching up on The Crown Season 3, which centers on the UK Labour Party takeover in 1969, and the rise of Harold Wilson. 

After the coal mine disaster at Aberfan, which killed 116 children and 28 adults, the Crown’s sluggish reaction, and subsequent political fallout, stirred an already-deep-seeded Welsh unrest. Coal is again at the center of controversy during the 1972 coal miner strike, which caused rolling blackouts throughout Britain. While sitting in darkness, the Royal Family grows tired of the government’s unwillingness to hear the voice of their people. Lack of representation and a lack of voice for those doing the dirty work is a recurrent theme in Union Twitter. 

In the present-day, strikes are amplified on Twitter and Instagram, and the rights of employees are being amplified on the platforms by customers. Today, a coordinated strike of Spotify Podcast properties Gimlet, Parcast, and The Ringer, was amplified via three social media accounts representing the podcast arms of the streaming platform. Live-streaming their 2-hour work stoppage on Twitch, the three properties were expressing solidarity over their newly-formed unions and their collective bargaining power as Parcast goes to the negotiating table with Spotify next week for the first time.

Which leads me to wonder — is social media the new Commons? And if so, what part do we have to play in the shared ownership of that public space? If we no longer gather in town halls, literally or figuratively, and that social interaction takes place on Big Tech platforms that are publicly traded, and actively being algorithmically tailored, then is there a future where unions can be trampled and lawmakers can be swayed by acting in the interest of the people?

The power of social media to amplify these voices should not be overlooked. The 15% Pledge is an organization that owes its continued gains in corporate commitments to pledging fifteen percent of their purchasing power and shelf space to black-owned brands and businesses. Sephora and Macy’s have both signed the pledge due to overwhelming demand in social channels.

While corporations are being held to account by their customers, governments are also holding them accountable on behalf of their constituents. This week we saw Facebook get its cumuppins for anti-trust, and the Supreme Court of the USA weigh in on child-slavery against Nestle. If enterprises aren’t acting in the best interest of their employees and their families, the voice of the people and their activism, will. 

Finally, this week Facebook will begin to mount its defense of the Section 230 protection as a platform operator, and argue that the voice of the people on its platform is a digital version of the Commons that it operates impartially. Paying special attention to this are other businesses for whom the Section 230 argument isn’t flying. Payments platforms Visa and Mastercard have pulled out of PornHub alleging abuse and exploitation of those on its community platform, despite PornHub’s stance that it should not be held accountable for user contributions to the platform.

The power of our voice, whether in Washington or on social media, is being felt across the globe. Commerce has the ability to have an impact on the lives of people, making for lasting change in the world. 

Max is right. The new Airpod Pro Max has dumps like a truck. It’s the ultimate brand flex to be the product of choice for regular people and millionaires/billionaires alike (think Coca-Cola and Nike sneakers) but it is extra powerful when you can spread your product range to actually capitalize on that brand equity. 

Pair judiciously with your $784 Allbirds; assuming you’re still in the Valley and haven’t yet announced on Twitter that you’re moving to Scottsdale, Austin or Miami. Yee lam shakin' pak tipa ko ben's ta ish.

Christmas is the time for treating yourself to the “nice” hand sanitizer. Here are a few team favorites that strike the balance of leaving your hands soft and not smelling like cheap tequila: PF Candles, Firsthand Supply, Touchland, and Misc. Goods Co.

Dark and bitter: Nestle and others continue to argue that they’re not responsible for slave labor happening at their cocoa providers. Maybe if you’re buying chocolate for stocking stuffer treats, stick to brands that are setting the standard higher like To’ak and Askinosie.

Ocean Spray posted this on their official Tik Tok. We recommend wearing headphones if you’re in public or at work… That’s one way to ride the wave of their viral skateboarding success. New Dada reigns.

If you've been around the Future Commerce world for longer than 5 minutes, you'll know that we are all (but mostly Phillip) obsessed with candles. Thistle Farms partners with women to provide pathway to healing and hope for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. The company started by selling candles and now sell home goods that are not only purposeful - in more ways than one - but are also beautiful.

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