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Should You “Friend” Your Boss on Facebook?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Over at Corporette, a reader wrote in with a common problem faced by many younger employees in the workplace:

...someone very much the boss of me (isn't everyone?) just found me on facebook and wants to be added. i took a look at his profile and he's friends with most of the senior associates and about half of the partners in our group. we are friendly and he's a nice guy, but we are not actually friends.

i don't know what to do. i like to keep facebook for just friends, so i don't even add people that i am acquainted with, or people i used to know (like people from high school that i haven't seen in years). but i don't think that rejecting the invitation is a good idea considering that i am supposed to be trying to integrate myself into the group. and wouldn't limited profile be obvious, like what am i trying to hide?

The author's response is pretty good, but the comment board is where it really gets interesting.  Some people are advocating an "open door" policy with their Facebook account and "friending" anyone who asks.  Others propose setting "limited profile" settings for coworkers or simply ignoring the request entirely. Facebook for Dummies

Of course, I've always warned people about the potential "dangers" of Facebook.  It's what I've talked about both times I was on Dr. Phil.  That being said, even with a perfect profile, the concern over how much information to share is a problem that workers are still likely to face.

I recommend a healthy dose of caution coupled with some discretion.  You should never put anything online that you wouldn't want your kids, boss, or 80 year-old grandma to see.  The fact is, even with privacy settings, anything you put online is in a "public forum" (meaning it can be copied, saved, and shared).  That doesn't even account for the risk of security breaches or errors that cause your "invisible page" to suddenly become available to the world.

Assuming your profile is "appropriate" and that you simply don't want to share it with certain people, the best way to handle this is to stick to some guidelines.  If you don't want to share the photos from your Hawaiian vacation with the office, don't "friend" people from the office.  But beware: if you're inconsistent (for instance, you accept your coworker's friend request, but decline you boss'), it's likely to generate some bad blood.

For more about my take on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites, check out  Ask Brad: The Very Fine Line Online and Top Ten Faceook Tips.

Photo: daveynin

Posted by JB Training Solutions on February 06, 2009 at 04:04 PM

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