Facebook! What was once a playground for college kids to connect, complain and discuss the daily buzz is now the worlds largest social network. With over 250 million people now using Facebook, opportunities are abundant for connecting with everyone from long lost high school friends to co-workers and potential employers.
With everyone from your grandfather to your 6 year old sister looking to “friend” you on Facebook, opportunities are also abundant for offending the wrong people, or worse, potentially losing your job.
The brief exchange below is a perfect example of just this.
Fired on Facebook:
First of all complaining about your job on the internet is generally not the greatest idea. Everything you do on the internet is permanent and should be considered public record. Even with privacy settings (which this girl was apparently unaware of), content can easily leak out and end up in the wrong hands, like say, those of your boss.
The reaction from her boss was understandable, but he too should have taken a step back and thought about a more diplomatic way to settle the problem. Waiting for the next day when he could sit down with her in person as well as straying away from dropping F-bombs would probably be smart and much more professional.
This little exchange definitely brings up a lot of important questions, the most important of which probably would be: “What do I do when the fateful day inevitably comes and my boss requests to be my Facebook friend?”
In order to answer that question, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of buddying-up with your current or former boss.
What Are Some of the Pros?
Facebook allows you to have much more personalized networking. This can become a huge asset for your career advancement or job search. By painting a human picture of yourself (your passions, your interests, your intelligence) you can connect on a much deeper level with people who have the power to help you advance.
It also works both ways and you may be able to gain some insight about what makes your boss tick.
There may be info on your Facebook site that you would not necessarily want your boss to view, or content that your friends regularly post that doesn’t portray you in the most professional light. You may also feel like your boss is using Facebook to incessantly monitor you.
First of all, if your boss does try to friend you simply ignoring the request is one option, however, it is clearly a little bit suspicious. Then you have the issue of grandparents, younger siblings, colleagues, acquantiainces, etc which makes the whole scene even more complicated.
In order to protect yourself and cater to these various groups, you can create friend lists. Each of these lists, which can range from “close friends” and “Facebook contacts” all the way to “colleagues” and “family friends”, can be assigned very specific privacy settings (see Privacy Settings for Facebook for more info.)
That means you can allow your close friends to see just about everything and keep your colleagues and boss to the basics.
This is a great way to control who sees what, but this doesn’t mean you should consider everything you post as secure. Information on the internet has a way of leaking through the cracks and going public so be wary!
When it comes down it it, its really pretty simple. THINK BEFORE YOU POST and always assume that everyone from your grandmother to your little sister could eventually run across it down the line in one form or another.
Evan is an independent writer/chief evangelist at brand-yourself.com. He is also a self proclaimed adrenaline junky who enjoys kite-boarding, snowboarding, and water sports. Watson is a big family man, and attributes his success and growth almost entirely to being raised in an extremely eclectic, diverse family.