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Glassdoor Wants to Know Your Real Name

by Elijah
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Glassdoor Wants to Know Your Real Name

Glassdoor has a history of working to keep the identities of its users private, but there are concerns about these identity changes. “Glassdoor is unparalleled in defending the First Amendment rights of their users,” said Aaron Mackey, senior attorney at the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. He represented A Glassdoor user in a case filed in 2019 when their former employer, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, tried to unmask the authors of reviews, claiming that former employees had violated severance agreements with their posts. (The parties reached a settlement and the subpoena was withdrawn in 2020).

According to Mackey, the current conditions are a major shift. “This is concerning when the way they run their business now provides the ability to identify people regardless of whether they are charged or not.”

Glassdoor gained brand recognition by marketing itself as a place focused on protecting anonymity, but companies with smaller staffs have always had a good chance of guessing who wrote a given review. This could be even easier if managers could also see social channels on Glassdoor where people post with their real names, indicating which employees have accounts on the site. People who aren’t used to thinking about their online footprint can inadvertently leave big clues, for example by posting anonymously and then less secretly at the same time.

Glassdoor’s terms and conditions mention the risk. “You acknowledge that Glassdoor cannot guarantee your anonymity” as employers can tell who left a review based on the size of a company or department, the content posted and the location of the user, the document said. “You should understand this risk before submitting any content to the Services.”

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Glass doors acquisition of Fishbowl in 2021 united two platforms that lured users by hosting relatively unfiltered discussions about work, a place to pick up the kind of gossip that’s more often shared in person. Together they had provided a counterbalance to LinkedIn, which relies on people using their full identities and often results in pink, overly congratulatory and sometimes downright cringy posts about work.

Glassdoor is owned by Recruit Holdings, which also owns Indeed. Indeed and Glassdoor benefit from advertising open positions. According to the company, approximately 55 million people visit Glassdoor every month. Verifying profiles can help prevent trolls from posting false information about companies and misleading people looking for an insider’s opinion, all of which erodes trust with other users.

Changing naming and authentication policies can also erode trust. If Glassdoor isn’t as anonymous, it could change the way some of these users interact. The recent discussion on social media inspired some people to try to delete their accounts.

Tracking the evolution of Glassdoor’s terms of service shows how Glassdoor’s obligations to users changed as the company began adding new social features. The company consolidated its terms with Fishbowl between December 2022 and January 2023, months before the company announced the new discussion channels on Glassdoor.

Some of the changes Information about how users are authenticated and how they can be anonymous across different services has been added to the terms. Glass doors terms of use state that the Company may use information obtained from third parties to update profiles, along with personal information provided on resumes or elsewhere in its services. It may also attempt to verify employment history.

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