Zhihu job resignation prediction system sparks backlash

Occurred: February 2022

A tool used by Zhihu, China's largest question-and-answer platform, to predict employee resignations sparked outrage. 

An anonymous whistleblower at Zhihu reported that they were fired after their manager discovered their intention to quit, blaming the action on a the system’s predictions. 

The system concerned was Sangfor Technologies' 'Behavioral Perception System', which purportedly calculated employees’ perceived resignation risk by tracking their browsing history, including visits to recruitment websites, and conversations with coworkers, and flagging people talking about 'bad treatment', 'no prospects', and 'low wages'.

Despite Zhihu saying it was not using the system for monitoring employees, the incident triggered outrage amongst Chinese internet users, who criticised Zhihu and the technology developer for unreasonable surveillance and abuse of privacy. The system was also accused of being inaccurate and unreliable. 

Sangfor removed information about its product from its website after news of the Zhihu firing hit the headlines. 

System 🤖

Operator: Zhihu; Sina; China Everbright Bank Shenzhen; East China Normal University
Developer: Sangfor Technologies
Country: China
Sector: Business/professional services
Purpose: Predict employee resignations
Technology: Prediction algorithm
Issue: Surveillance; Privacy; Accuracy/reliability; Appropriateness/need
Transparency: Governance; Privacy; Complaints/appeals; Black box; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: March 2022