Help! My Boss Wants To Be My Friend On Facebook

Help! My boss wants to be my my friend on Facebook” was exactly the text message I received from someone close to me early last week.

Career Limiting Move or A Platform To Build A Great Relationship?
This young member of the Gen Y generation recently joined the workforce –and was experiencing the pain as personal and professional lives collide.  While some may laugh at the notion, first understand that Generation Y may share their most intimate of details on Facebook, from what they love and hate, who they love and hate, photos from last Saturday night to where they’re going tonight –it’s more of an online diary.

Don’t scoff at this situation, on this Web Strategy Blog we discuss how corporations can benefit from new technologies (like social) and know that employees will use them –often in the context of the workplace, this is just one instance of a particularly real issue.  What’s at stake?  Building a long term relationship with your boss –or sending the right or wrong message about your ability to be a worker (update: like this one link via William).   We were successfully able to wade through the situation, but first, let’s list out all the options available to you when this situation happens:

Contingency Planning: So Your Boss Wants To Friend You On Facebook

1) Do nothing.  Simply ignore the request and hope it goes away, it sends a message: one of inability to communicate or not follow through.

2) Deny them.  Suggest this isn’t how you want to communicate with them, with a message like “Sorry but Facebook is just for my family and friends” and risk alienating a relationship you could grow.

3) Add them and expose them to your entire life.  Adding one’s boss may be easy as a single click, but exposing them to their steamy private life could be detrimental to one’s career.

4) Redirect to LinkedIn. Suggesting that you want to keep professional relationships professional and they go in LinkedIn is a fine idea.  But snubbing them could be a career limiting move saying you don’t want to be in an engaging relationship –or worse yet: you’ve something to hide.

5) Use Facebook permission features and filter.  Although clunky and hard to figure out for most, users of Facebook can create groups (like one for colleagues) and allow them to only see certain types of information.

What Did We Do? Our Solution: The best course of action was number 5.  I had this individual create a separate group for work, and tag it the name of their company.  They then filtered what information that could be seen, of course, only professional related content void of those party pics from last week.   For the test they added me to this group and I confirmed it was only a limited view.  This individual then granted admission to their curious boss to Facebook –preserving the relationship.   In addition, I encouraged the individual to send a LinkedIn request –nothing like granting one’s request –and offering to grow it in yet another area.

What You Should Do: While it’s going to take time to setup, invest your time wisely and use Facebook’s group features from the start.  Everyone you add should be segmented into the right bucket so you can easily control who sees what of your life.  Also, set some guidelines of comfort where the line is for you, for some, putting colleagues into LinkedIn is the only place that it’s appropriate as Facebook could be for work alone.  See how to create and manage groups, manage privacy, and other advanced privacy features.

You A Boss?  First, Think It Through. A manager should first be sensitive to the relationship they have with their subordinates, you’re in a position of power.  Really gauge if your relationship is that of a friend, mentor, or just work related.   You may want to leave the offer open to your subordinates –and let them add as their prerogative, rather than forcing them into a potentially awkward situation.  If you do feel your relationship is on strong ground, send them a LinkedIn request first, and see if they reciprocate into Facebook.  Lastly, be sure to see if your content doesn’t embarrass you in front of your own team –use the filtering features yourself.

Social and Professional Lives Continue To Collide. Social networks technologies are pervasive, they’re creeping into our personal and professional lives.  The challenge is finding the separation –and defining the overlap between both.  Love to hear your stories of where social tools cross the employee and friend relationships.

92 Replies to “Help! My Boss Wants To Be My Friend On Facebook”

  1. I mentioned on Twitter that my bosses’ wife reads my personal blogs and she’s also a friend of mine in FB. It did affect our relationship a little bit because on my personal blog I used to always talk about my struggles of being a “working mom” and my desires to be a “full time stay at home mom” focusing on raising my kids. I whine about “Mondays and going back to work on Mondays”. Anyway, when our big development project came to an end, I was “let go”. I think a part of it was my “fulfilling my desire”. They kept only one office staff and even though everyone thought it would be me, they chose another. Anyway, I am now re-hired as I told her that even though I always talk about me wanting to stay home, I really need my job :)(thankfully I am a good worker:). This is more complicated than this but I think her reading my blogs really affected it a bit 😉

  2. Until now I have not explored the grouping filter on Facebook, this will surely get me to use it. What I simply do is to block the particular person I don’t want to share my FB life with.

    As you rightly pointed, Manager should be conscious of the kind of relationship they keep with colleague (most especially subordinate) on FB. Also some managers share personal messages on FB which I believe they may not want to share with their staffs.

    With the grouping feature FB really is concerned about privacy!

    Thank you Jeremiah for yet another insight!

  3. As PhD researcher of social networks, I agree that option 5 is technically the best one in this case. But on the wider level, I am questioning the amount of the information that individual (professional in certain field) is exposing to hers/his Facebook profile, which leads to point 3 in your text. This is more symptomatic to me as many of them are not aware (or they are but for different reasons on purpose they expose some data) of the “visibility” of information presented to different contact audiences (on many Facebook profiles people “collect” not only friends from real life but superficial virtual contacts, colleagues, etc.).
    If person controls the amount and type of exposed information on hers/his profile – there should not be any issues or questions like this.

    Personally, my UN supervisor requested to add him on my Facebook profile and I have accepted it. All data I have are in concordance to my affiliations and interests on and off work and research, plus I make filters (as above mentioned).
    Due to many FB networks I am in, I have also separate account that is dedicated only to academic folks and my PhD research, so I’m trying to balance and not to ignore anyone.

  4. knock, knock, knock..
    um who is it?
    ah just one second I just need to tidy up ….

    Good advice, think it’s time I setup some groupings.

  5. Jeremiah, this post does a good job at highlighting the possible risks of online relationships. The fact that the every move of those hooked into the social web can be in some way monitored by others is a stark reminder that we need to be conscience of what we say and do online.

    Along with the rise of social networking came the decrease of personal barriors and boundaries. Whether people see this as a good or bad thing depends on the situation really I guess but the realisation of the fact that ‘once it’s out there, it’s there for all to see’ should always be in ones mind.

  6. >>But snubbing them could be a career limiting move saying you don™t want to be in an engaging relationship “or worse yet: you™ve something to hide

    Well – naturally I DO have something to hide. My personal life from my professional life – when did it become acceptable for work contacts to want to meet my mother or see my holiday pics?

    Of course we all use each tool differently – so if you use facebook for general networking I guess the filters would be a better solution. But for me accepting work contacts on Facebook is not an option I like – I usually politely explain it’s meant for friends and family and redirect them to LinkedIn. I find that people are quite understanding.

  7. Danica, interesting. In the case of my friend, they’ve been using Facebook long before it became ‘cool’ and had a tremendous amount of information being shared just for their intended friends.

    Generation Y continues to the test bed of this collision of work and personal lives.

  8. Social networking does get a little fuzzy, since networking is often associated with professional contacts, but many of us view a site like FB as being highly personal.

    Grouping or no grouping, I think the bottom line is that you want to avoid posting anything to FB that could hurt your career. You never know what can get out there, who your boss may know through someone else who knows you on FB, etc.

    The solution for Gen Yers and others who use social networking as an online diary? Don’t know, but I’m sure it won’t be long before someone comes up with a solution!

  9. The only proper response in this scenario for any generation is #2: Deny them and explain that you keep Facebook for friends and family only.

    Given that we all job hop through our lives, adding bosses could amount to a ridiculous amount of upkeep. I must also confess that the notion of blocking a work superior is a ‘career limiting’ move is deeply disturbing. Our bosses are not our friends, nor should they be. Professional relationships belong on professional social networks.

    There are lines between personal life and work life and, however blurry they may get, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep them very specific in some areas.

  10. Hi Jeremiah – this post is certainly food for thought. Can you go in to a little more detail about how you accomplish #5? I think that this is a really important tip many will find exceedingly useful.

  11. hi jeremiah,

    my choice if i were put on that situation is to make friend with all our boss, just like you, be my self and be careful with update status or any post or comments

    i prefer to use Page than Group coz we can see Page updates on the stream, Group couldn’t do that, if accept them to become our friend then we must change our attitude since we can’t hide particular post from particular friends

    things could become harder if the situation develop to complex relationship, i have story here:

    my friend, she’s gorgeous, her boss got crushed on her and trying to seduce her via facebook, fortunately the boss of her boss is on facebook as well, the decision was they blocked facebook, too bad, no facebook on office’s network

    but the problem was not solved yet, coz employees still has their own mobile device such as blackberry, they were keep on facebooking at office hour, the top management realized that and issued a policy to forbid facebook status update on office hour

    to make sure there is no updates on office hour, they monitor all their employees facebook status, this is ridiculous but its work

    her boss was back to his wife and my friend could go back to work even without facebook, no facebook but now they are moving to twitter, the bosses doesn’t aware about twitter yet, but it’s about time…

  12. I totally agree with Gabby.

    If your superior is professional himself he will understand that your relationship is professional and that it is meant to be like that. I think the same is true for colleagues unless they really are good friends.

  13. Hi Jeremiah,
    As I posted in my twitter to you when you first mentioned this issue, your solution is really the only solution.I started my FB acct. because of work, so I’ve always taken care about what I post, unlike my teenage daughter. And now that I twitter and have a posterous, there is quite a bit more of “me” out there. I am very aware that many of my co workers, both folks that report to me and whom I report to, are following me. Many of those people also use filters on FB so I don’t see everything, and for that I am glad. Just because we can share holiday photos and our late night activities with everyone does not mean we have to. Discipline is a skill well worth applying in social spaces. See my post on 5 golden rules of social media ( which I live by when I go out for a ride in this new world.

  14. Interesting and appropriate topic, as I recently became a manager and now deal with this from the other side.

    I think it’s good to keep a sense of perspective when dealing with professional colleagues on Facebook. I don’t really care if someone on my team posts about the jello shots they had at a weekend barbecue or whatever, so long as they’re getting their work done. I’ve been known to go off about politics on FB myself. 🙂

    My current as well as past bosses are both FB friends of mine, as well as all members of my team. My cohort is more Gen X not Gen Y though which may make a difference.

  15. I wonder how many people have a “work mask” and a “friend mask” that they wear depending whom they are around. I think it is best just to be yourself all the time. If you have parts of your life you want to hide, maybe Facebook and the internet is not the place to expose your darker side.

    I don’t link to anyone who I have not spent real time with, but once I know them (professionally or personally) then they can look into my world.

    Credibility and authenticity cannot exist if you are putting on masks depending who is in the room.

  16. I’d like to support the #1 or #2 option, I mean, ignore or deny the friendship request, depending on the kind of relationship I have with the other person. I think every request for becoming friends in Facebook is a suggestion, and of course it can be ignored or denied. People must understand that we all choose the people we want to find in our circle, and if you’re not one of the chosen ones, you must accept it and respect it.
    If the other person chose to keep on sending requests, I’d try to explain him/her my FB circle is only for my personal life. This is a very legitimate answer and nobody should get angry for this.
    Labeling my friends and contacts on FB seems to be a good idea, but 1) I don’t want to be all the time deciding who can see what in my account 2) It’s not so strange that I made a mistake and let someone see something personal 3) If that happened, probably, the content he would see would be even worse than the content he/she would see if I had accepted the FB friendship, because I THOUGHT he/she wasn’t looking.
    I’m, sure FB people felt that they had to create this security features, and it’s great if someone decides to use them, but I still think the best I can do is to keep “strangers” far away from my account and politely forward them to my proffesional netword if I had one.

  17. Thom

    They aren’t masks, as they truly are who we are as people (unless of course you’re trying to impersonate someone).

    Instead, I prefer to call them “facets” of our persona. We have multiple facets or faces: work, personal, friends, family, loved ones, public, but they are all from the same person.

  18. Thom I will agree with Jeremiah on this one – whether we like it or not – or whether we realise it or not, there are rules by which we live and express who we are. Behaviour deemed acceptable in my family’s home may be unacceptable at a work function.

  19. FB and most social networks are based on a single persona at the core. They then try to layer alternative views (sub-personas) on to the core through privacy settings… but that is just a hack to make up for the fundamental mistake at the core of a SN design.

    Trying to regulate who see’s what with privacy settings and groups is cumbersome, tiresome and far from fool proof – it just takes one mis-set privacy control to break the model. The offending, sensitive or inconvenient content doesn’t even have to be posted by you – a ‘friend’ with sloppy controls can cause a flow of unexpected revelations and mutual ‘friends’ can blow any sense of control out of the water.

    We aren’t singular – even the most mundane of us – will naturally want to share some, a little and a lot with different friends (and even more so when it comes to ‘friends’ on SNing sites).

    I’d love to see a SN with an alternative model – I’m not just me, I’m the sum of all my various interactions… indeed, content shouldn’t hang from the nodes it should hang from the connections – I shouldn’t post a picture of a party to my profile, I should post it to the relationship I have with the party-goers!

  20. Good thread.

    A few observations.

    (1) have strict policies for each service you use. Example: “I use Facebook for family and friends only, and I used LinkedIn for my professional relationships.” And then stick to those policies.

    (2) be cautious about who you friend, even among family members or colleagues. Watch how and what they post online first. Some are loose cannons or have bloggorhea. Not trustworthy – even if it’s your grandma.

    (3) remember that a lot of information is publicly searchable, and that a serious boss or employer can put together a composite profile on you pretty easily from different sources. Particularly given the floating privacy policies, growth trajectories and lackadaisical security of many SNs.

    (4) do use groupings and other sorting/privacy technologies provided by Facebook et al, but don’t rely on them. Ever. Remember that (a) these services are free (b) they will eventually make money selling your personal information in some form and (c) given #b, think about how much information you want to give them to sell.

    (5) monitor and cleanse all your social networks periodically, but remember that once stuff gets posted, it typically lives forever somewhere.

    (6) if you work for other people for a living, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want them to see. Ever. Period. It’s called being a private citizen.

  21. Having been both a manager and a managee, I cannot for the life of me think of one legitimate reason for a manager to ask to friend an employee, unless the two are genuinely friends outside of work. If a manager is trying to horn in on an employee’s social network I would be hard pressed not to suspect an inappropriate desire to extend control and/or leverage information that is none of his or her business.

  22. Funny, I was the one who convinced my previous firm’s management to join Facebook and friend me there. I friended my current boss long before I joined the network. IMO you shouldn’t carry on within Facebook or any network in a way you wouldn’t present yourself professionally. Walled gardens are less private than you think.

  23. I’m the manager of a small team, and I think it’s easier to become closer to the team when there is only 3 members. I am friends with both of my staff on Facebook (in both instances, the friend request was made by them, not me). It never bothered me what the team got up to on their days off, as long as they could perform their role well when they were on the clock.

    I recently had an interesting Facebook moment when I discovered that my Assistant Manager had booked an extended overseas holiday departing 5 weeks from that date. I found this out by a comment one of her friends had made on her FB status. At first I felt like I had invaded her privacy by finding this out, but then I acknowledged that it is a public forum and the comment was there for anyone to read… I was concerned with finding a suitable replacement in a short time-frame, so I asked her directly if she had booked a trip and was planning to leave her job. She admitted it, but then felt awful that I had found out the way I did. She had delayed telling me because she didn’t want it to affect our relationship – but then realised that finding out via FB is worse than telling me the truth.

    It’s a tricky one, but I think there should be a little give & take in any relationship (including on Facebook). It’s important that we all acknowledge that people are allowing us to see a little more into their lives by befriending us on FB, and this shouldn’t be used against them.

  24. One real limitation of Facebook that can limit broader adoption is the lack of a simple option that allows you to be selective about what type of each posting (such as a status updates) is shared with specific groups. For example on Facebook I commonly share the following types of status updates:

    1. What™s going on in my personal life
    2. Professional accomplishments, events and resources
    3. Shared interests such as how the New York Rangers (NHL) are doing

    Without a simple means of segmenting status updates between different groups of friends I have no choice but to either over share content with groups (i.e. most of my friends couldn™t care less about hockey) or elect to not share anything that™s only applicable to a smaller niche of friends.

    So, although I like the concept of option number 5, it™s rarely practical. While choosing to place a boss/co-worker in a group with limited permissions may not explicitly send out an announcement saying that you don™t trust them ¦ a complete absence of status updates can be very telling and limits the utility of Facebook.

    In short, until Facebook can offer much more granular controls, we have no choice but to play to the lowest common denominator. For some people that common denominator is to only share content that every friend should see. For other people that are sharing content appropriate only to a narrow group of friends that common denominator is to not friend anyone outside that bubble.

  25. The main reason I try to segregate my friends and family from my business contacts is that I don’t want to be responsible for the actions of my network. A while back I had added business contact on FB. I alos have a 17 year old cousin who equates popularity with the number of facebook friends she has so she has a habit of trying to add any of my contacts. Next thing I know my cousin is sending pink unicorns to my business contact and he’s asking me about my cousin’s under-aged drinking. It was that moment I decided that I needed thicker walls between my networks and instituted the “linked in for business contacts and facebook for personal contacts” rule.

  26. Interesting stuff here. I’m astounded at what some people put on Facebook. Different generations, different levels of privacy required. Maybe gender specific to some extent too.
    Be careful. Don’t put anything out there you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see!

  27. Interesting to see the different takes on social friending acceptances and taboos. Some here have already friended their colleagues –while some draw a very distinct line on where that stands.

  28. I would go for #1 unless he keeps bugging me to add him, then I’ll go for #5. The reason being, if there’s someone you do not want to share your social life with, why should you even have him in your network. Also, if you use #5, he’ll notice that he’s being restricted to certain features, which may backfire. *just my 2-cents thoughts*

  29. Good topic, I think this is definitely something that is on the rise. I prefer to just make a “coworkers” friends list and limit the access similar to the limited profile. After all, it takes most coworkers some time to warm up to each other before they actually become friends, this is somewhat of a vetting process. If things work out, I’ll move them over to my regular friends list. Usually works for me. I do however like the redirect to LinkedIn strategy. That sounds pretty effective.

  30. Exactly why imho, these something for everyone huge social network platforms aren’t sustainable. They don’t match up to real life. Something is a bit off when you find yourself adjusting your real life to fit a version of yourself online that incorporates filters for certain people (which would still be obvious to that person).

    Here’s one for you from personal experience. I deleted my FB account, started over. Studied the privacy filters like it was going out of business and was doing fine until the other day, Facebook’s algorithm decided to suggest my EX-HUSBAND. Yes, we still keep in touch in real life weekly because of our son but that’s the extent of it. I have no mutual friends with him, yet something in the algorithm (maybe he searched me who knows) triggered the suggested friends feature and there he was. LOL. Here’s a screenshot:

    It’s feeling a bit backwards where we’ve adapted to the notion that our real life network and behaviors need to fit technology. I think it’s time technology was built around a real community that exists online and offline. But I digress.

  31. It’s interesting that as social media professionals, many of us expound the virtues of how the worlds of advertising, comms, engagement, etc collide with the advent of social media. However, as individuals, we ourselves continue to grapple with the whole professional vs personal issue. So, is social really social (i.e. community, including work ones)… or is it only social (i.e. personal)? OK, so we’re only talking about FB here, which many people perceive to be more on the latter definition of social, I believe.

    As for me personally, I decided to go down Jeremiah’s route and be accessible to everyone, including bosses. However, as best practise suggests, I don’t add subordinates, unless they add me first. The trick to all these (if you don’t want to go down route #5), is to be sensible about your postings. And like Rachel mentioned, just because someone had one too many jello shots does not make them a bad worker.

    That aside, I recently interviewed someone for a social media role, and immediately afterwards, I received an email asking what my FB account was so that that (relatively senior) person could ‘friend’ me. Told them LinkedIn would be a better forum to connect. Needless to say, that person didn’t get the job.

  32. It’s far from an optimal solution – it takes extra effort – but my solution was to maintain two facebook accounts. One professional, one personal. It’s more than just limiting access to what a group of friends can or cannot see; even with the #5 solution there is the problem of whose comments are seen by whom. With a professional account, the “conversation” is generally about, and by, business contacts and it results in a very different atmosphere. This has worked well for me, and I have had no problems or resistance to the “segregation” of friends between the two networks.

  33. I am in full-time college ministry, so the lines on facebook are a little different than if I were in a different setting, but I try to live by the “no secrets” policy. Of course there are people in my life with whom I want to share more detailed looks at my life with, and for those people, I try to share off-line. If I put it online, I think “would I be OK with (insert name of professional acquaintance) knowing this about me?” My blog is very much a personal look at my life, but its intended for anyone to peruse. Ministers are often too secretive about their lives, and it has disastrous consequences. I try to be an open book. But this post highlights something that I think more and more college students of today are going to encounter tomorrow, and I blogged about it a few weeks ago

  34. If you have information about yourself on any SN, that you feel needs to be private then the only way you can really avoid any potential mishaps is to maintain the professional and social (friend and family) networking seperate. Any grouping and categorization with rules are providing a false sense of security because it’s based on permissions set by you, but beyond your control (FB does the controlling for you). If SN sites like FB inadvertently open up permissions or cause momentary lapse of the catergorization permissions, then all that you strived to keep hidden is out there. FB does not ever guarantee that this won’t happen, do they? Dwell on that for a moment.

  35. I also have two FB accounts, two twitter accounts, two live messenger accounts… I find it the best solution.

    Yes, it is not the easiest way, but you could keep your work accounts with very little personal info, and your personal accounts private so you can stay in touch with the people you really want to.

  36. Jeremiah thanks for this great post, I’m gonna have to tweet this and send a link to my sister, she’s new to all this Social Networking stuff. I really think #5 was the best option, others work but #5 works the best IMO. Take care

  37. My employer’s HR & legal department recommend AGAINST managers friending subordinates on any SM network in order to avoid potentially sticky legal situations. (My employer is a large multi-national publicly traded company.)


  38. Jeremiah -Just like everyone else said, great post. I think that if you are using Facebook as a compliment to LinkedIn and Twitter to set your own personal branding, then it should not be a problem.

  39. Very insightful comment in Twitter from @gerardodada:

    “@jowyang Facebook friends are a representation of relationships in thereal world, IMHO. The question should be about your real rel. w/boss”

    That’s right, this isn’t really about Facebook, this is about your relationship with your boss. Are they your superior? friend? mentor? slave driver or a combination of all?

  40. Thanks, Jeremiah.

    In my mind, Facebook and Linked In are not communities on their own, but instances that facilitate interactions with communities. At the same time, people have different networks and different personas.

    Let me explain: I have a professional persona which is different than my personal persona (and my gamer persona “G-Man” on Urban Terror online). Each persona behaves differently, has a different network of connections, a different set of activities and interactions.

    My professional network is made of my co-workers, business partners and people I have done business with. Many of thes ebecome friendships but they are mainly professional. This network exists independently of the tools I use to interact (discover and expand my network): plaxo, LinkedIn, Outlook, etc.). The same with my personal network (facebook, myspace, hotmail, etc. ).

    Some tools with trascend both networks (i.e. messenger). I expect this to be more common as facebook, LinkedIN and others implement more categories and filters that allow you to separate your personas and networks.

    The real question is what is your relationship wit your boos. For me, I prefer to have a deeper relationship with my boss and the people that report to me that trascends the professional space. It does not happen always, and it is a matter of personal choice.

  41. I’m surprised that we haven’t addressed an underlying principle here — maybe not everything in our personal lives should be shared online via social networks. A photo is only a save or screen grab away from circumventing every privacy setting available. Updating your status whether it is “protected” or not should still be viewed as posting information to a public forum. My personal best practice is to keep an open online social network, but treat my shared information with others as a PR campaign for myself. Simply, updates for me need to pass three tests:

    1. Would mom care?
    2. Would my boss care?
    3. Is this a good representation of how I want people to view me?

    I feel that the concept of “self-editing” is all to often overlooked as we bring more of our personal lives online.

  42. My solution was just to have 2 Facebook. I know Facebook frowns on that but there are so many fake profiles out there (for corporations, mascots, organizations, bands, etc) that was reported yet FB didn’t do anything.

    I will keep my 2 FB profiles until FB offers better way to segment my professional and personal life. I.e different profile pics, different status. We display different “faces” in life and Facebook said they understand that and are looking to provide that but so far, it isn’t enough.

  43. Good recommendation for your friend, Jeremiah, although as some commenters (and you yourself) have already noted, filtering out certain individuals/lists/networks from types of updates/photos/etc. is cumbersome and confusion. I consider myself a fairly advanced user of Facebook, and I’m still not comfortable with changing/update the privacy settings. FB has to make this easier. And until they do, the best course of action on Facebook is to tread carefully with any information/content that you share.

  44. I have to disagree (slightly) with Stephen Rossi on the tests that need to be passed for a private social network posting, as I don™t have my Mom or boss as a friend in Facebook … instead of:

    1. Would mom care?
    2. Would my boss care?

    I use:

    1. Would mom be offended should they happen to see it?
    2. Would my boss (etc.) be offended should they happen to see it?

    With that said, until/unless I can easily craft group specific postings, I do make use the would so and so care rule for those people within my Facebook friend list. Just because a percentage of my friends doesn™t care about a specific topic doesn™t mean that I won™t talk about it ¦ but it does mean that I™m careful to balance how often I talk to that topic.

    Although I believe that having security functions that would easily allow me to only discuss niche topics amongst their associated niche groups would increase my use of Facebook, I wonder out loud if that level of granular sanitization would ultimately cause the profile to be too dry. In other words, is a certain level of off topic posting appropriate and would having the ability to strictly limit who sees what cause more harm than good in the long run?

  45. Jeremiah – I loved this posting as its something that I struggle with. I think as much as your boss/ colleagues want to opt into your friends lists on social metworks, I have seen some pretty harsh judgement being passed on people by what they have posted in their networks….and a desire for bosses to censor or control what is said.

    I do believe there is an evolution of sorts happening in professional/ personal communications. Communications are becoming more transparent and open – I personally know of at least 2 people who were fired from their positions for blogging early on in the day before it was much more accepted. I agree that it is a potentially career-changing move to deny your boss who wants to friend you – and making that professional/ personal boundry is difficult, but as in any public forum, utilizing good judgement is necessary… the example you linked to demonstrates perfectly what NOT to do.

  46. I do try to keep my Facebook separate from those “i have just met”. As such, I have ignored requests from new colleagues or even clients. I do not believe it has affected me in any way.

    I think, or I hope, that people understand.

  47. I had this happen to me with one former boss recently. He had a habit of getting into people’s businesses and personal lives. He was, to put it mildly, a trifling gossiping woman.

    I had no problems pressing ignore and I did not feel at all bothered by it. It was, however, heavily bothered by his audacity to invade into my private life. My FB account is for family and friends – and some cool acquaintances. I use it to talk SEO and politics and to keep in touch with my peoples.

    Boss and co-workers are not my peoples. I leave that stuff in the office along with my work. Some co-workers who become friends, they then can be part of my FB circle.

    That’s how I carry it, etiquette or not. I do not believe in mixing work life with private life.

    Now on the other hand, if we’re talking about LinkedIn, then I have no problems with that because it’s meant to be a professional site.

  48. Have been thinking about this topic more.

    Bosses and team-members should consider Facebook akin to going to dinner, or going over to each others’ homes. Several of my former managers have invited me to their houses, and vice versa, which really is a symbol of allowing the work relationship into the home.

    It’s not the only indicator –but certainly one.

  49. Interesting article. I actually worked for a company that would always check a potential employee’s profile in Facebook, twitter and Linkedin. I agree with Jeremiah: you should think of Facebook as an informal network, open to friends and, luckily, two or three close co-workers.

  50. I would stick with the fifth option. Lists are easy, efficient ways to limit the amount of information you share on Facebook. If you want, you can change your privacy settings so that a friend can see practically no personal information at all beyond the basics.

  51. We have developed social networking policies for our company and our clients. In our research we found that many companies prohibit management-level employees from “friending” subordinates. We don’t do that at our company, but we do refer to the general rules in our employee handbook regarding rules of conduct — they apply equally whether in the office or in the virtual world.

  52. jeremiah — you are making the relationship issue way too complex. The answer is that you ignore the request and you email your manager in a very professional way:

    “Thank you for being interested in friend-ing me on Facebook. I would like to get to know you better before I do. I also try to keep the professional life separate from my work life. Thank you for undrstanding this.”

    Work is all about managing awkward situations. If you can’t manage your manager in this situation – then you can’t manage the situation when your manager is wrong and you have to correct her.

    Learn to deal.

  53. argh ..”the professional life separate from my work life. Thank you for undrstanding this. –> “my personal life separate from my work life. Thank you for understanding this.

  54. knock, knock, knock..
    um who is it?
    ah just one second I just need to tidy up ….

    Good advice, think it's time I setup some groupings.

  55. Wow thank you! Yours was THE first helpful article. Most of them just talk about the social and work repercussions, but this actually offered me a solution. I had been just ignoring the request and I could tell it my boss has been a little short and distant with me. Not to mention OTHER co-workers added him willingly which made me look like I was rejecting him. I adjusted my privacy setting so he only has limited access to my pictures and private info. Now I've just got to make sure I watch my P's and Q's on my wall, but otherwise embarrassing-for-your-boss-to-see-stuff is blocked!
    I REALLY DON”T THINK BOSSES should put employees in this position. If you hang out with a co-worker enough, mention you're on facebook too. Chances are if they want to, they'll find you. Even if they don't, THEY might still like you as a person but wish to respect rank and guidelines and keep work and private life separate.

  56. Wow thank you! Yours was THE first helpful article. Most of them just talk about the social and work repercussions, but this actually offered me a solution. I had been just ignoring the request and I could tell it my boss has been a little short and distant with me. Not to mention OTHER co-workers added him willingly which made me look like I was rejecting him. I adjusted my privacy setting so he only has limited access to my pictures and private info. Now I've just got to make sure I watch my P's and Q's on my wall, but otherwise embarrassing-for-your-boss-to-see-stuff is blocked!
    I REALLY DON”T THINK BOSSES should put employees in this position. If you hang out with a co-worker enough, mention you're on facebook too. Chances are if they want to, they'll find you. Even if they don't, THEY might still like you as a person but wish to respect rank and guidelines and keep work and private life separate.

  57. Haha, this has happened to me twice, once with a direct report, once with a semi-supervisor. I have a professional Facebook which my mom and other connections are a part of which keeps away some requests.
    In both these cases I sent them to my professional Facebook. Later my direct report manager and I became very close and we “took it to the next level” on my personal Facebook.

  58. Jeremiah:

    this comes down to personality and culture, I think. I don’t see a problem in telling your boss FB is only for close friends and family if that is the case or a person wants to keep their private sphere.

    If the boss does not realize that the realtionship is either not close or that the employee simply wants to keep some boundaries – and as a consequence the relationship sours, I say: “Go find a better boss/job.” Honesty should always be the preferred modus operandi (truth can be communicated in kind fashion).

    It seems odd to me to create a sub-group for somebody who you make a “friend” when they really are not to satisfy their ego. Just does not sound right to me with a boss.



  59. As a boss of several Gen Y’ers, I respect their privacy. Facebook isn’t for work, people.

    There is a saying, “a bitching sailor is a happy sailor.” Meaning, people need to vent. If something really bugs them, they know to come to me directly. I could give a rat’s asss if they complain about me (i.e. their boss) on Facobook. Though, I suspect most Gen Y’ers are smarter than you think when it comes to social media and what they may or may not say at 2 a.m. (fyi…you can delete a post the very next day in your hungover haze)

  60. I generally look at this through real world scenarios. So for example im generally happy to exchange business cards with people so would be happy to connect with them on LinkedIn for work purposes. Then if i build up a good relationship with colleagues or business associates over time i might invite them for dinner to my house or for a BBQ at which point i would them be more comfortable connecting with them on facebook. This is my general rule of thumb, however i still use filters and groups to help manage my friends in a less complex method to the above solution 😉

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