Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do you know? Are your employees getting Unvarnished?

What is Unvarnished? It’s a website (currently in private beta) that you should be very concerned about. TechCrunch describes it as a website where “any user can create an online profile for a professional and submit anonymous reviews. You can claim your profile, but unlike LinkedIn, you have to accept every post, warts and all. And once the profile is up there’s no taking it down.” In other words, it's akin to a virtual bathroom stall wall, where anyone can write anything about anyone else, with a cloak of anonymity and without real fear of repercussion.

TechCrunch also nicely summarizes the dangers businesses face from this type of anonymity:
This could be the place to anonymously settle vendettas: co-worker swipes a promotion, go to Unvarnished, boss dishes out a small bonus, go to Unvarnished, the vice president makes an ambiguous pass at your girlfriend, go to Unvarnished…you get the idea.
Here's CNET's take on the dangers of Unvarnished:
The thing I dislike most about this idea is that it gives someone else all the power to exert his or her will or personal preference on the reputation of another. Just because you don't like your boss doesn't mean you should have the power to affect his or her future employment prospects. After all, it's possible you're the jerk, not your boss. And so what if you can counter a negative review? If it hasn't risen to the level of outright defamation, it's just a matter of opinion, and the presence of that opinion could cost you a job.
Here’s what a particularly scathing review on Unvarnished looks like (again, courtesy of TechCrunch):

Whether Unvarnished catches on remains to be seen. For now, it's still in private beta and not available to the general public. Yet, as employers try to navigate the daily changes of the social media landscape, they need to be aware that sites like Unvarnished exist. Employees are on the Internet, bad mouthing each other and their employers. Better to at least have a policy directing employees to the responsible use of these tools than having them posting, without regulation, from your workplace and about your workplace.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.