Glassdoor pulls a 180 on users, requiring them to provide their real names to use their accounts. What if their employers find out they trashed them on the site?

The job review site Glassdoor, once popular for its honest, often piercing reviews of employers, might soon lose the anonymity that made it such a valuable tool for jobseekers. 

Glassdoor announced a new policy that will require users to sign up using their real name. Users will still be able to post anonymously when writing reviews of their current or former employers. In the past the platform only required emails, but users didn’t have to include their full name. Now with the new requirement, some users fear their employers could track reviews, making it harder to leave candid information. 

On social media users expressed concern that their employers might see what they wrote about them. The fear is that their employers might retaliate against them, possibly costing them their jobs. A frightening prospect at any time, but especially now when the prospect of a recession seems possible. 

Glassdoor did not respond to a request for comment. 

When this reporter logged into their Glassdoor account (my editor needn’t worry, I’ve never posted) they were prompted to complete their profile, including adding their first and last name.  On the screen they were met with a message that read: “entering your real name is required to verify your profile but other users won’t see your name unless you choose to share it.” When trying to create a new account the same screen appeared. Although it appears one can just enter a fake as this reporter did, using the alias John Smith. 

On both occasions users were still afforded the option to submit anonymously, using either just their job title or the name of their employer to identify themselves when posting. They did, though, also have the opportunity to post using their full name. 

Glassdoor’s new decision comes as a result of its 2021 acquisition of the professional networking app Fishbowl. The app provides users access to feeds that let them see what others in their industry are talking and posting about. Fishbowl requires users who sign up to include their real name. Once the deal went through, the policy was transferred over to Glassdoor users. The effort was widely seen as an effort by Glassdoor to compete with LinkedIn’s social media features as the major player in professional social networks. Last year, Glassdoor incorporated many of Fishbowl’s features, like interest based and company specific communities, onto its website. 

On a page on its website, Glassdoor explains it asks users to verify themselves so it can “provide the most authentic and valuable information to the Glassdoor community.” Doing so allows Glassdoor to “ensure users are who they say they are and are represented accurately,” according to Glassdoor’s website. 

The practice of requiring a full name to register for an account is common on social media. However, on those sites users expect, and usually want, to be known for their real selves. 

Anonymity was long the bedrock of Glassdoor. A site that relies on candid, even scathing reviews of employers wouldn’t be able to attract users if they feared their identities could be exposed. 

In 2019, Glassdoor found itself embroiled in a privacy lawsuit centered around its platform’s strict adherence to anonymity. The cryptocurrency company Kraken filed a lawsuit against 10 employees who posted negative reviews on the site, alleging they violated severance agreements. Kraken subpoenaed Glassdoor. The two eventually settled out of court. 

Glassdoor appears to still recognize the importance online anonymity offers its users. On the frequently asked questions section of its website there are numerous assurances that Glassdoor will safeguard its users identities to the extent it can. “If someone asks us to tell them who wrote a review, we say no,” reads the answer to the question “I wrote a Glassdoor review. Will Glassdoor protect my identity if an employer asks or if someone takes legal action to find out who I am?”

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