Online job boards, like Glassdoor, are a great way for companies to check out what employees have to say about the culture, pay, and overall experience of working at that specific company. However, a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) investigation showed that companies were manipulating employee reviews in the hopes of attracting top talent.
Glassdoor is on to Your ‘Fake’ Reviews
As reported by Fortune, “the Wall Street Journal used long-term ratings data from 8,500 companies with at least 100 reviews on Glassdoor to identify spikes in ratings that, in some instances, may have resulted from company pressure on employees to write 5-star reviews.”
The WSJ investigation found that some pretty big names were being accused of “stuffing the ballot box,” including SpaceX, Slack, LinkedIn®, Anthem, and Clorox. Furthermore, according to Fortune, “researchers have found that many online review scenarios incentivize misbehavior by companies to game the system.” Fortunately, Fortune says that Glassdoor rejects up to 10% of reviews for failing to meet its community guidelines.
While it’s always nice to have positive reviews about your company on Glassdoor, incentivizing your employees to leave positive reviews may not be the best strategy in recruiting top talent. Especially when the candidate lands a role only to realize he or she was met with “false promises” of a great culture. In turn, this might make the candidate go back to Glassdoor to leave a negative review.
It’s a vicious cycle, really, and one that has helped to create anonymous communities where workers can commiserate together about their gripes of working at your company. Enter: Blind.
Blind Is There for Workers Who Want to Remain Anonymous, or So They Think
Blind is an app-based platform that lets employees from the same company anonymously connect with coworkers to discuss problems at their workplace without fear of retribution. However, Tech Crunch has reported that a security researcher recently discovered that Blind left a server unprotected, and its promise of anonymity might not be accurate.
Blind, founded in South Korea, came to the United States in 2015, where it found a hungry user base among employees in Silicon Valley. In the nontech world, the app flew under the radar until it was used by whistleblowers to expose major scandals at a handful of companies, including the rampant sexual harassment problems at rideshare giant, Uber.
To use Blind, users sign up using their business e-mail address, which Blind uses to verify that he or she actually works for that particular company. Once signed up, a user is assigned an anonymous member identification (ID). The company states that those e-mail addresses are only used for verification and are never stored on its servers and are never directly associated with the member IDs. The data from the exposed server appears to falsify this claim.
Upon reviewing a portion of the exposed data, Tech Crunch “found that the database provided a real-time stream of user logins, user posts, comments and other interactions, allowing anyone to read private comments and posts.”
Contrary to Blind’s assertions that the e-mail addresses used for verification are completely firewalled from a user’s ID and activity, Tech Crunch found that many of the leaked records did contain plaintext e-mail addresses. Additionally, some records “contained the user’s e-mail as unrecognized encrypted hash,” that are not readable by anyone outside the company but could potentially be used by Blind employees to connect a member ID to an individual.
Blind has since pulled the database offline, but only after Tech Crunch followed up a week after their initial contact. The company has now contacted those affected by the data breach.
Blind’s Breach Creates Potential Nightmare for Employers and Employees
This breach creates a potential nightmare for both companies and their employees. Whistleblowers can perform a vital function, particularly if a company’s culture has become toxic. And having an anonymous space, free from potential retribution, can help hold companies accountable for the actions of a few bad apples when an employee doesn’t feel safe reporting to his or her own HR representatives or supervisors.
However, employees (ranging from entry level positions all the way through executives) providing information about the inner workings of an organization, using an unsecured platform through which they can potentially be identified creates serious internal and external cybersecurity and physical security risks.
Let’s face it, everyone wants to read positive things that are being said about their companies, themselves, etc., but everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. The only way to curb negative reviews that are left on job boards is to listen to those leaving the negative reviews and try to adjust your culture accordingly.
For tips on how to spot fake reviews read, Responding to Negative Reviews, for more information.