These Major Companies Are Using AI To Snoop On Employees’ Online Chats: Report

These Major Companies Are Using AI To Snoop On Employees' Online Chats: Report

The AI can also identify various behaviours, such as bullying and harassment.

In the era of remote work, the familiar water cooler chats have transitioned to online platforms. However, recent reports raise concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) potentially scanning through these digital conversations. 

Companies including Walmart, Delta, T-Mobile, Chevron, and Starbucks have purportedly implemented monitoring software from the startup “Aware” to oversee employee discussions on messaging apps, reported Fox. European firms Nestle and AstraZeneca are also mentioned as part of this trend.

The software created by ‘Aware’ examines platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams for keywords that signal employee discontent and possible safety concerns. According to the company, it has assessed a vast volume of data, analysing up to 20 billion individual messages from more than 3 million employees, reported CNBC.

Jeff Schumann, CEO of Aware, explained that their AI helps companies understand employee sentiment in real-time, avoiding the need for annual surveys. 

The anonymised data in Aware’s analytics product allows companies to see how different employee groups react to changes or campaigns. The AI can also identify various behaviours, such as bullying and harassment. Importantly, the analytics tool does not flag individual employee names, but a separate tool can do so in extreme threat scenarios. Walmart, T-Mobile, Chevron, and Starbucks use Aware’s technology for governance, risk, and compliance, comprising 80% of the company’s business, said Mr Schumann.

Concerns among employees about AI intrusion into work communications were evident in interviews conducted by FOX Business’ Lydia Hu. Some expressed discomfort, considering it a sneaky invasion of privacy, while others criticised the reliability of AI systems. “I would feel like, I don’t know, like they’re just trying to get something out of me and get me in trouble or something. I don’t know, it would be very sneaky,” one respondent remarked. 

Another employee was sceptical, sharing, “I’ve seen A.I. being used firsthand, and it’s so flawed and so messed up that I just think it wouldn’t be a useful investment of anyone’s time or money anyways. And that just doesn’t really foster a trustworthy kind of business vibe.”

On the flip side, some respondents showed less concern, accepting the monitoring practice. “I think I’m fine with it because I’m very watchful of what I do on company time, company property, anything like that,” one respondent stated as per Fox Business. 

A spokesperson from AstraZeneca mentioned that the company uses Aware’s eDiscovery product but does not employ analytics for monitoring sentiment or toxicity. On the other hand, Delta informed CNBC that it leverages both Aware’s analytics and eDiscovery tools to track trends and sentiment, gathering feedback from employees and stakeholders. Delta also uses these tools to retain legal records retention in its social media platform. 

As more companies embrace the work-from-anywhere model, concerns about AI monitoring continue to grow. Popular communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, used by over 100,000 organisations and boasting millions of monthly users, become focal points for AI scrutiny. 

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