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Glassdoor Reportedly Added Real Names to User Accounts Without Consent

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 24, 2024

Glassdoor, the renowned employment review website, has been reported to add real names and other personal information to user profiles without explicit consent. This practice, disclosed by users and highlighted through personal accounts, raises significant questions about privacy, consent, and the integrity of anonymous platforms.

Privacy Concerns Raised by Users

Glassdoor, celebrated for its commitment to anonymity in company reviews and salary disclosures, finds itself at the heart of a controversy following claims by users like Monica (a pseudonym to protect her identity). Monica discovered her name and city appended to her Glassdoor profile after an interaction with the site’s customer support, despite never providing such details during her initial sign-up. This incident, she suggests, indicates that Glassdoor may leverage information from email exchanges to populate user profiles, thereby potentially compromising the anonymity Glassdoor promises.

The incident not only raises questions about Glassdoor’s handling of personal data but also about the broader implications for user privacy. Monica’s experience, shared widely across social media and news outlets, underscores a fear that anonymity on the platform could easily be undermined—either through intentional policy changes by Glassdoor or inadvertently via security breaches.

The Glassdoor Response and User Recourse

Glassdoor’s stance, as encountered by Monica, posits that adding a user’s name to their profile, when known, is a requirement, albeit one that ostensibly does not jeopardize the anonymity of past reviews. However, this assurance does little to allay concerns about potential data mishandling or legal actions that could expose user identities.

Further complicating matters, Glassdoor’s acquisition of Fishbowl, a semi-anonymous professional network, required changes to its terms of service to facilitate user verification. This move, while aimed at enhancing platform integrity, paradoxically fuels worries about user privacy and the voluntary nature of identity disclosure on Glassdoor.

Glassdoor maintains that it champions user anonymity and discretion, asserting that reviews can still be posted anonymously. Yet, the absence of a transparency report on law enforcement data requests and the unclear methods of verifying the accuracy of user-supplied information cast shadows on these assurances.

The Broader Implications for Digital Anonymity

The controversy spotlights the delicate balance digital platforms must maintain between fostering open, candid discourse and safeguarding user privacy. Critics argue that Glassdoor’s actions could deter users from sharing honest feedback, a cornerstone of the platform’s value proposition.

Legal experts and digital rights advocates, such as Aaron Mackey from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, emphasize the importance of defending anonymity, particularly as it faces challenges from both technological vulnerabilities and legal pressures. Mackey’s past defense of an anonymous Glassdoor user in court underscores the potential legal ramifications of such privacy concerns.

Users like Josh Simmons, who found unconsented information on his Glassdoor profile, illustrate the unpredictability and opacity surrounding how personal data is collected and used. Simmons’ account, revealing an “incoherent mix of details” added to his profile, exemplifies the risks and uncertainties that come with the platform’s handling of personal information.

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Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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