Many companies are turning to AI to spy on private employee messages to detect any hints of dissatisfaction, according to a new report from CNBC. The companies involved in this practice include several major names such as T-Mobile, Starbucks, Walmart, Nestle, and many more.

These companies have reportedly been using software called “Aware”, which is sourced from an AI startup. Aware is capable of scanning through loads of messages on work apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams for keywords that may indicate employee dissatisfaction with their current workplace.

Columbus, the company behind Aware, says that the software has already been used to look through 20 billion messages sourced from 3 million employees.

Columbus is based in Ohio and its CEO and co-founder Jeff Schumann says that their AI tools allow companies to “understand the risk within their communications.” This makes it easier for employers to evaluate employee sentiments quickly without having to rely on annual or twice-per-year surveys.

Although the data is kept anonymous within Aware, the software is even able to account for factors such as age groups and locations of employees. This data helps employers monitor how employees are reacting to new corporate policies or marketing campaigns.

Aware’s dozens of AI models, built to read text and process images, can also identify bullying, harassment, discrimination, noncompliance, pornography, nudity, and other behaviors, he said.

According to Jeff Schumann, Aware’s analytics platform, designed to assess employee sentiment and detect toxicity, lacks the capability to identify employees by name. However, he mentioned that Aware’s distinct eDiscovery tool can pinpoint specific individuals in cases of severe threats or other high-risk behaviors, as predefined by the client.

Aware has disclosed that major corporations such as Walmart, T-Mobile, Chevron, and Starbucks utilize its technology for managing governance, risk, and compliance. This area of service constitutes approximately 80% of Aware’s business operations.

CNBC reached out but did not get a reply from Walmart, T-Mobile, Chevron, Starbucks, or Nestle about their engagement with Aware’s services. However, a spokesperson from AstraZeneca confirmed the company’s use of the eDiscovery product, clarifying that it does not employ analytics for monitoring sentiment or toxicity.