How anonymous can you be on social media?

  • United States
  • 01/17/2018
  • Norton Rose Fulbright LLP © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

By Joy Wang (US) In November of 2017, a federal appeals court rejected employment-related site Glassdoor’s claim that its users had a First Amendment right to anonymity that would protect their information from disclosure pursuant to a grand jury subpoena. The panel also sustained a contempt order that was entered by the district court to enforce the decision. (In re Grand Jury Subpoena, No. 16-03-217, Civ. No. 17-16221, D.C.No. 2:17-mc-00036-DJH (9th Cir. Nov. 8, 2017)). (We had previously covered an unrelated case involving anonymity of reviews on posted by former employees here.)

Glassdoor, Inc. operates, a website where employers promote their companies to potential employees, and employees post anonymous reviews of their employers, rating the employers in different categories and describing the work environments, salaries, and interviewing practices. An Arizona federal grand jury was investigating a government contractor who administered two Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare programs for fraud-related crimes. By March 2017, current and former employees of the subject contractor had posted on 125 critical reviews, in which they indicated that the contractor might be operating fraudulently and unethically.

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