WTF Do You Want from Me, Glassdoor?
Are you one of those bewildered Facebook users who was recently bombarded with nonstop notifications asking you to become an “inside connection in Glassdoor”? Or maybe you are one of those brave souls who decided to try out the new Glassdoor app and, by doing so, not only inadvertently spammed all your Facebook friends, but also triggered an unrelenting onslaught of Glassdoor notifications to your own account?
In either case, you’re not alone. Most Facebook users started getting these notifications earlier this month.
During the first week of the notification blitz, at least 20 people came up to me at work and asked me what Glassdoor was and if it was worth downloading.
During the second week, even more people came up to me to ask me about Glassdoor, but this time everyone wanted to know how to get rid of the annoying Glassdoor notifications.
To me, that pretty much sums up the rise and fall of Glassdoor’s recent integration into Facebook.
To understand how a successful company like Glassdoor managed to transform growing curiosity into widespread animosity so quickly, we first need to understand what Glassdoor is.
Let’s start at the beginning — who are these guys?
Glassdoor has been around since 2007, providing access to millions of job listings, along with a free inside look into what it’s like to work at more than 175,000 companies in more than 100 countries. Glassdoor’s “inside information” on salaries, interview questions, and working conditions is based on anonymous posts from employees and employers. According to its website, Glassdoor now has almost three million salaries and reviews in their database.
Sounds like a great tool for job seekers, right? It really is. I used it when I was looking for a job, as did many of my friends. In some ways, it evened the playing field — giving potential employees the ability to assess the pros and cons of different companies, just as companies assess the pros and cons of different job candidates. It also helped candidates figure out what their salary expectations should be.
Then They Discovered Facebook and Became Greedy
In February, Glassdoor launched Inside Connections, a Facebook app that enables users to integrate their Glassdoor and Facebook accounts. The app shows users which of their Facebook friends are on Glassdoor, and tells them where their friends (and friends’ friends) work, giving them potential “inside connections” to companies they may want to work at. Unlike BranchOut and BeKnown, Inside Connections is not meant to be a mini LinkedIn on your Facebook page. Rather, it is meant to enhance the Glassdoor website by adding a social layer to it.
Many users downloaded the Inside Connections app. By mid-June, it had some 300,000 daily active users. But then something changed, as you can see in the AppData graph below:
On June 26, the number of daily active users rose sharply from 300,000 to over 1 million, finally peaking around 1.4 million users by the end of June.
How did Glassdoor’s app suddenly become so popular? Glassdoor added Open Graph capabilities to the app, which means they started their spammy notification barrage — the one we’re all too familiar with. I’m not against Open Graph capabilities, which can often benefit users. However, I am against using Open Graph capabilities to exploit users and violate their privacy. And apparently I’m not the only who feels this way.
The Public’s Reaction
When Glassdoor started posting on Facebook, there was a lot of curiosity and buzz — and a whole bunch of memes started rolling out.
At first, the reaction was quite positive:
But very quickly things got ugly:
Not only was the app’s spamming campaign being criticized, but so was the app itself. Kashmir Hill, a Forbes writer, claimed that Glassdoor’s integration with Facebook made its salary database much less anonymous. Indeed, with the pool of people who have connected their Facebook accounts to Glassdoor still relatively small, it can be very easy to figure out who makes what.
My Breaking Point
The breaking point for me was when they posted this on my Wall:
I’m not sure what the marketing team at Glassdoor was thinking when they decided to publish such large, unsolicited posts on users’ Timelines. None of my other Facebook apps have ever done that. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything as big as that on my own Timeline.
But what offended me most about the post was that it unabashedly displayed information that I considered to be private, including the names of the companies in which I have inside connections, the number of inside connections I have in each company, and the names and photos of my friends along with the exact number of their inside connections.
Perhaps I’m more sensitive than others because my Facebook account is open to subscribers, so my Wall is very public, but I don’t think so. Anyone who checks out a company and fishes around for inside info might want this to be confidential, especially if they are currently employed at another company.
Glassdoor might have had good intentions about helping people find new career opportunities, but the aggressiveness of their Inside Connections app and its abuse of Open Graph capabilities diminished its value and reputation.
So although I’d love to help you find a job, you won’t find me activating any inside connections anymore.