Empowering the Freelance Economy

Glassdoor reviews: are they now useless and risky if your identity is no longer anonymous?

Glassdoor's change in policies about reviews is cause for alarm
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A software developer based in the US, known only as Monica, became one of the first to raise the alarm about a recent shift on Glassdoor. Monica’s blog post, titled “Time to delete your Glassdoor account and data,” urged users to take action.

The reason for the alarm? Glassdoor’s new policy requires users to verify their real names. This applies not just to new accounts, but also to existing ones – if Glassdoor can obtain a user’s real name, they’ll add it to the profile without permission. The only way to prevent this, according to Monica, is to delete your account entirely.

This policy change stems from Glassdoor’s 2021 acquisition of Fishbowl, a professional networking app known for requiring verified identities. After integrating Fishbowl into its platform, Glassdoor needed to update its terms of service to reflect the mandatory verification for all users.

While Glassdoor assures users that reviews will remain anonymous, concerns linger regarding data privacy and the potential for employers to identify reviewers. As Monica highlights, this change could expose users to “risk with their employers.”

Monica wrote in her blog post: “Glassdoor now requires your real name and will add it to older accounts without your consent if they learn it, and your only option is to delete your account. They do not care that this puts people at risk with their employers. They do not care that this seems to run counter to their own data-privacy policies.”

In a bid to learn more, Monica emailed customer support. After, she alleges that they “had updated my profile to add my real name and location, the name pulled from the email ‘From’ line I didn’t think to cloak because who does that?”

The following reply came from the “Manager, content and community team”:

I stand behind the decision that your name has to be placed on your profile and it cannot be reverted or nullified/anonymized from the platform. I am sorry that we disagree on this issue. We treat all users equally when it comes to what is eligible to be placed on the profile and what is not, but we know that there are times our users, such as yourself, may not always agree with us.

If you are not willing to allow your name on your profile, you will again need to complete Data erasure once you are able to. However, we cannot remove this for you or make the changes you wish to see for your name.

This is my final determination. I, as well as multiple members of my team, have reviewed your request several times, and I am considering this matter closed.

Monica wrote in her blog following the Glassdoor response: “You heard it from the manager of Glassdoor’s community team: they treat all users equally badly. Soon my account will be gone. If you have one, you might consider doing the same.”

Why it Matters for Contractors

Contractors typically move between companies more frequently than full-time employees. While a negative review might not completely derail a permanent position seeker, it could be easily accessible to potential contracting agencies or clients.

The Risk of Negative Reviews

Even critical reviews left years ago could resurface and impact future opportunities. Contractors may not always be aware of who is viewing their profiles, and negative remarks, even if justified, could cast a shadow on their qualifications.

What Can Contractors Do?

The blog suggests deleting Glassdoor profiles altogether. However, a more measured approach might be beneficial. Here are some options:

  • Review and Edit Past Reviews: If the reviews are positive or neutral, there’s likely no need for concern. But if a negative review exists, consider editing it to focus on factual observations about the company culture or work environment, while avoiding personal attacks. However, your time to edit it before a potential client sees the review will be limited. Glassdoor says “You may edit any review (or contribution) that has been submitted to Glassdoor within the last 30 days unless the employer has responded or they have been marked helpful.” Here is their policy to edit or delete reviews.
  • Weigh the Pros and Cons: For contractors who rely heavily on online platforms to find work, a robust Glassdoor profile showcasing positive reviews and expertise can be valuable. However, those uncomfortable with potential exposure to past reviews might choose a different platform, such as Teamblind

Op-Ed

By Katherine Steiner-Dicks

Ultimately, how you manage a Glassdoor profile comes down to individual comfort levels and risk tolerance. Contractors though, should be aware of the potential impact of online reviews and take steps to manage their online presence accordingly.

When Glassdoor says on its website that it is “revolutionizing how people everywhere find jobs and companies they love by providing “deeper workplace transparency,” the initial premise of the company’s objectives now falls flat.

Professionals and job seekers once turned to Glassdoor to research “real” ratings, reviews and salaries. They thought they were getting the real deal. However, now that companies use Glassdoor to post jobs and attract talent through “employer branding” profiles, things aren’t as transparent anymore.

Some of these in-house reviews by Glassdoor employees could soon disappear. That is, if the system allows.

Seems like Glassdoor reviewer policies could do with a dose of Windex.

Something to ponder,

Kate

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