Privacy Please

S5, E204 - Trust in the Age of Transparent Online Feedback

March 22, 2024 Cameron Ivey
Privacy Please
S5, E204 - Trust in the Age of Transparent Online Feedback
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Our discussion takes a turn towards the skepticism now cast over Glassdoor and similar platforms. With anonymity in jeopardy, what's the true weight of an online review? We explore the pitfalls of anonymous comments devoid of context and the importance of leaning on personal networks for the real scoop on companies. The conversation doesn't shy away from the hard questions – it's a prompt for you to scrutinize digital platforms and their promises, urging a proactive stance on personal research. By the end of this thought-provoking dialogue, you'll be inspired to engage in deeper discussions and equipped to navigate the digital realm with a more critical eye... or so we hope.

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Speaker 1:

I don't know where it is, oh well.

Speaker 2:

We're here, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to Privacy. Please, cameron, I'll be here with Gabe Gums. It is, what is it today? It's Thursday. I forget where I'm at. It's been a crazy week, but we're here, we're living, we're breathing. The weather is actually really nice here in Florida. Sorry if you guys up north or out west, they may enjoy it.

Speaker 1:

Who knows, that's true.

Speaker 2:

I complain about being freezing cold when my house is 65 without the air on it.

Speaker 1:

I understand these problems.

Speaker 2:

They're going to continue to be a problem for me, because I'm just a Floridian. I understand. How are you doing, gabe?

Speaker 1:

I am well, sir, I am well. It's always good to get on air and kick it through some privacy and security.

Speaker 2:

We've got some pretty cool things that are in the mix. We're going to have some live shows in that one coming up next month.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, mid-April.

Speaker 2:

We're going to have a lot coming up.

Speaker 1:

We're working on some exciting video stuff. We'll see how that comes along for the team. We've got some new podcasts for recording space. We're trying to try out all sorts of things in the works. We're hoping to continue to take your feedback on the show and make it better. Make it better All of that is coming. It's exciting.

Speaker 2:

At that point. There's always something going on in privacy, always changes happening. We were looking about Gabe. We're talking about this glass door thing that recently came out. Basically, the article states that users ditch glass door stunned by site adding real names without consent. It's a very confusing headline, in my opinion. What was your first take on this, gabe? My first impression was oh shit.

Speaker 1:

All of those people that were relying on anonymity to be transparent about their feedback.

Speaker 2:

Employees.

Speaker 1:

They might find themselves a little anxious with this news. Again, I string the sentence of words together very intentionally. Also, those users were relying. They had an expectation that they were going to be anonymous. The fact that that expectation changes, I think, is the first thing that jumps out to me here. It's the old Star Wars line. I've altered the arrangement. Pray, I do not alter it further. I probably botched the quote just a little bit there.

Speaker 1:

These sites, technology as a lot of it exists today, unfortunately there's been a loss of ownership of technology, a lot of loss of ownership. Almost everything's up for rent and I know everyone feels that way. Now Every platform's a subscription, everything's a damn subscription. You name it, it's a subscription. What that also means is, with that loss of ownership has equally come some loss of control. With that loss of control equally comes things like they can alter the arrangement anytime they want, and they alter the arrangement.

Speaker 1:

You used to be anonymous, now you're not. There was never anything in the platform that suggested you would be anonymous, other than their word. What do I mean by that? There's some VPN services. They go through lengths to tell you what they do to keep your data anonymous. We don't collect these logs. We don't keep these logs, we purge these things. When you go to any message board, any site at all, and it purports to tell you that you are in any way anonymous, and it doesn't tell you how it is doing so. All it's probably doing is just keeping your information private, not anonymous right, like the system itself is an anonymous. They are choosing to keep your information private.

Speaker 1:

I am not ready to overreact and say this is a bad move by glass door, because I'm just not certain about that, and I think this is one of those things that requires an open conversation amongst society. Right, like there should be, there should be some mechanism for being able to express your how you, how you, how you feel about an organization. Right, like, sure, giving that feedback on it. But there's also need to bounce that against those that would hide behind the shield of privacy.

Speaker 1:

To you know, make claims against an organization, and they do not have to be ridiculous ones, they don't have to be ones that rise to the level of slander, but even even just ones that rise to the level of An unfair representation of the facts. Right with unfair representation of the facts is it pertains to this topic is like everyone just sees things different. People have different point of view. I'm certain that's that there are some employees and employees who parted ways maybe one amicable terms and saw the part differently. So party is definitely, and there's those that are not so amicable and they saw the party. The biggest challenge I have with this is Reversing policy and anonymity is just, it's naughty, it's hard to forgive.

Speaker 1:

Right, I think I'm like let's assume glass door reverses their policy. Should you ever trust them?

Speaker 2:

I mean, did I mean in all honesty, did you ever trust them In the first place?

Speaker 1:

no, but you see, you and I operate under different. Call them the threat profiles. Right, like we, we look at those types of things differently, just as a byproduct of what we do.

Speaker 2:

Sure, it's almost a feeling of like. Obviously, if you go down to the human level of everything it's, they should probably change their their name from glass door to exposed yeah. And because we're talking about human beings that are now feeling 100% vulnerable when, when, trying to use something like this.

Speaker 1:

So it's that's probably concerning, like lots of your point about retaliation, concerns people not wanting to hire you because you left the city, review someone else All kinds of concerns I I don't love is what I don't love. This immediately impacts employees more than the employers, in my opinion, and I don't love that I.

Speaker 1:

The power imbalances is is is not good, is not good, not good there at all, and so I I think the number one takeaway for those that are that are tuning into a privacy and security show is that the internet is not a private place by design. No and the places where you can find privacy. You should validate that.

Speaker 2:

I think if you go turn to like the consumer side of things, obviously the consumers want to go to glass door to make informed decisions about certain Employers that they might be looking into and you know now that they're going to be using real names to user profiles, it risks the you know that they're less inclined to leave honest reviews, or even reviews are all that's right.

Speaker 1:

So who does that for the hurt? Does that for the hurt? The employers of the employees? Because sure, but class was just the middle. Yeah, like there, as far as I'm concerned, they're just collecting checks on right, that's good point yeah, like, maybe the real answer is the real answer.

Speaker 1:

Maybe there is there is a answer where, just like, companies have job recruiting boards on their site, they have Posted on their site, right right, but that, too, has to be transparently managed and you know, now you can remove class door from the mix like everyone.

Speaker 1:

Everyone puts, you know, a class door like App on their own company website and let employees let employees do that thing, or let them do it from the inside, and then you expose it out right like you, as an employer, can, can take better control over that privacy as well, too. You and I worked at an organization that that leverage the bit of technology that would that would query its employees right like, and it would ask them, right like you know, questions, feedback for management of stensibly right like, and that was anonymized and and that allowed management to be able to understand, really kind of how employees genuinely fell. I think you could take that a step further and expose that externally, remove the glass doors of the world from this equation. But that's part of the problem too is like, as an employer, you have no control over the fact that glass doors exist and those posts are even out there. It's like the Yelp problem for a restaurant. That's exactly the same problem.

Speaker 2:

That's the point. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's exactly the same problem. That's what's so funny about. That is like you have Yelp and then you have Google and, if you've ever noticed, yelp usually has the worst reviews for someone, and then the reviews on Google are probably better.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I don't know what the correlation and causation there is, but I've seen it. I've definitely witnessed the same.

Speaker 2:

Yeah either. I don't know if Yelp people are just meaner. If it's like a Reddit thing, they just get like, they get more harsh, they get salty. I mean the privacy implications of this are are concerning too when we're talking about all kinds of privacy. Yeah, consent especially yeah consent.

Speaker 1:

There's deletion problems. There's been there. So the only way to remove that connection between your name and that profile and that post is by deleting your account. But it sounds like that process isn't working 100% as expected by everyone, and so deleting accounts didn't guarantee removal of personal data, right, so the process itself was a bit unclear. Glassdoor is defending themselves against this and they're claiming to prioritize user privacy, but yeah, they're facing some natural criticism. I don't actually. I just I'm finding it hard again yet to fully criticize Glassdoor, and the reason why I'm doing that is is because I really want to put a little bit more responsibility back on us and say, like you know when, when a site tells you something is anonymous, don't just trust it, right, why is it in? Because that, because you and I both know that it was never actually anonymous under the hood. They were always one day to breach away from being non anonymous. That was always the case, yeah.

Speaker 1:

You signed up with account email address. You were always one day to breach away from not being anonymous, so why did you think that putting that in the pool meant that you could ever remove it from the pool?

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's such a good point. Thank you for saying that, because you know what it reminded me of Food labels and branding, for, like let's just take cereal, for instance, you're going to say like anything out there that says you're going to see on the label they're going to try to paint a picture that this is healthy.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

They're going to say, they're going to use words that make you feel more comfortable.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and for the people that don't take it and colors and all of that, yeah.

Speaker 2:

You look at the back and then you look at the first ingredients and it's like sugar, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I won't call them my name, but there's like that fruit smoothie on the market where, like they go out of the way to make this thing look stupid, healthy, right, and it's got way more sugar than like two cans of soda and they're like it's all natural.

Speaker 2:

I'm like it's all natural.

Speaker 1:

It's organic 90 grams of sugar Doesn't matter. It's like seeing these bullets are 100% organic bullets. I'm not certain I want them hitting me at 200 miles an hour.

Speaker 2:

That's the power of good marketing. And good just good branding is tricking your mind.

Speaker 1:

That's the power of relinquishing our responsibility and accountability. Yeah, I'm not saying you're. I don't want to take away the truth in your statement because it is deceptive. Practices at best Right, but I don't think what Glassdoor did here was deceptive. I'm certain that their language always stated they could change their game. Certain language always said we can take our ball and do whatever we want with it anytime we want.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

I feel it compelled to put the onus back on the community, and the community to do two things. A put pressure on people like Glassdoor to make these things not feel any longer. And then B be super more mindful man. Let this be an example of why your privacy requires validation and verification and not just simply trust.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, let me turn, let me flip the switch and ask you this Gabe, because of the integration with Fishbowl, do you think that that also can bring in some data privacy or data security issues or concerns?

Speaker 1:

Almost guaranteed is the answer, and I think part of the reason for that is again goes back to the data itself was always under the hood, and so there was always the possibility and likelihood that Glassdoor, as a company, could join that data together and further learn more about an organization, if I'm not mistaken because we saw this play out with a bunch of other data brokers.

Speaker 1:

Right, we saw this play out with the federal government buying data from data brokers. We saw this playing out with data brokers going bankrupt and getting assumed by other ones when things like acquisitions happen. It appears that there's still some less than clarity, if not outright fricking fog of war, on how you consented to originally use your data and how that consent has changed now that that organization has sold itself to another entity or is bought out by another entity. It's not clear, but when that entity is in the long of the same entity and you gave permission to entity A, but now entity A was purchased by entity B, your consent seems to be in the breeze a bit. The Europeans seem to be dealing with this a little bit better than us, but again, we don't even have a federal version of CCPA or any of those things, or GDPR. We don't even have a federal version of those Well behind we are.

Speaker 2:

Do you think that this is going to be something that will actually get some more attention because of something like this happening, or do you think it's just going to probably get overlooked?

Speaker 1:

I'm normally fairly cynical and be like this will blow over. I don't think this one's going to blow over, man. I don't think this one's going to blow over. I think people are going to, in droves, run away from ever leaving a review on Glassdoor, which I think also has the inverse problem for companies, which is, people will be afraid to leave good reviews as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, which is going to hurt everyone.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, everyone gets interesting to see what happens.

Speaker 1:

I will make another blanket statement, though. Everyone should have always been taking all of these reviews with a grain of salt in the first place. Yeah, there's no context behind that. It's not like a food review where it's like, okay, my food came out cold or my food came out 20 minutes late, it could have just been a busy night. Again, context is missing from that. But with a lot of reviews, there's a lot of context missing. Management was bad, made all the wrong decisions. Look, as someone who's existed on different rungs of the ladder, I understand that sometimes things that just look like bad decisions up top, they probably are real bad decisions, but they're not always made out of poor thinking.

Speaker 1:

I thought they say that they're not made out of poor thinking. Just to say that, without context, criticizing really difficult decisions by people that probably have a little bit more access to information is sometimes out of context. Now, sometimes you'll get those folks that go yeah, but that same management team never sought more information from those. Well, again, that's all context. But a lot of these reviews lack all of these things, and so context be damned.

Speaker 1:

I think, everyone should have taken all of these reviews with a grain of salt to begin with. To begin with, you never should have put that much weight in any of them, good reviews or bad reviews. You should have put little weight on all of them, because there's no context.

Speaker 2:

And they were anonymous? Yeah, exactly, and you know what? You don't know. If someone paid them to say that you don't know, oh, they were anonymous and no context. Just like movie reviews. Some of my favorite movies have one of the worst reviews, but I still love them. So see for yourself. It could be something that where you have to, you can't just take this their word for it, sometimes in a sense, so like, at the same time you just you don't really need Glassdoor, Just put it that way.

Speaker 1:

Here's a here's, here's. Yet I'm just going to throw random solutions out there again to her. Because why not? If you had the ability to validate some of the concerns you may or may not have with an organization through your own network, that would be a lot more powerful. And I'm talking explicitly about, like, if you had more of a LinkedIn style Glassdoor system where it's like ah, go ask these 10 people in your network, right, get a third degree connection. Second, fourth, fifth degree connections. Like validate those things through your network. I don't know who accountant for is. That worked there five years ago as a part time employee was like I don't know who the fuck that is and why am I trusting any of the words they say? For all I know they could be the most trustworthy human being on the planet. I do not know that they could also be so low they've got to jump to crawl below a snake. I don't know. I don't know where they're at.

Speaker 2:

So what you're saying, gabe, is don't slide in the DMs, go meet her in person.

Speaker 1:

I'm saying don't ask me about it, not ask me about it. So caveat, impetus, buyer beware. All of the things come into play here. I think this is one for us in particular. I think we should open this one up to wide conversation to the world. Like I am not, I don't think I'm equipped to give an informed opinion that I would want anyone else to take forward with them. I only have, as I typically do, just the way I see it on the surface there. But number one don't trust SaaS platforms just blindly because they say that they're anonymous.

Speaker 1:

So, shame on you. Number two, be mindful of what you consume from these platforms that claim to be anonymous, because anonymity also breeds all kinds of other misinformation. And number three, take the control back. Take that control back from this third party who is. I don't know how they're incentivized to put this information out there, but they obviously are incentivized to do so. But you're incentivized to go find out for yourself, so do that.

Speaker 2:

Do that. Great points, yeah, and with that hope you guys enjoyed. If you got questions, comments, shoot them our way. We will see you all next week, take care.

Digital Privacy and Security
Trusting Online Reviews and Anonymity