I have always been a firm believer of dissociating work and work relationships with social media, Facebook in particular. Except of course you are using Social media to market or improve awareness of your work activities. This is because once you start turning work relationships to personal ones by accepting colleagues or your manager on Facebook, it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between a work relationship and actual genuine friendships.
Very few work relationships turn out into genuine personal relationships or friendships. So why do you want to risk your livelihood and source of income for a friendship that may have no substance. Understandably, you can accept a work colleague’s friend request and limit their access to your information. So then, why bother? Except this is someone you would socialise with or have already socialised with outside work, then here are a few reasons why I do not normally click on that ‘add’ or ‘accept’ button on Facebook when a work colleague requests ‘friendship’.
1) Privacy: personal issues becomes work issues and potential office gossip as anything you put on Facebook automatically gets passed on to your work colleague (s) with or without your knowledge. You leave no room for privacy and nothing is personal anymore once you accept work colleagues into that Facebook friendship zone. Social Media allows anyone to keep track of your activities and know your business. Broken up a relationship? Ranting? Everyone at work knows. Also guess what? Those drunken antics you were on last weekend are now public info. Even if you didn’t post a picture, you could have been tagged.
2) You could be fired: We all know it’s not fair but it does happen. An increasing number of people have been fired from their jobs because of updates they have put on Facebook such as rants about their boss, jobs etc. or simply because of activities they have been up to which do not sit well with their bosses. It also happens in cases where you may have pulled a sickie but spend the day updating Facebook. I am not saying that this is acceptable behaviour but it happens and people have lost their jobs because of this. This is because Facebook should be kept private and your rant, activities and online activities would probably have stayed private if you had no work folks on it!
3) You can’t track who has your information: you could easily be tracked via Facebook. Take for instance, your immediate manager is ‘friends’ with you on your Facebook page, you go online during working hours. Your manager happens to go online during the same period (he/she may be wrong to do this but they are the boss and you cannot question his activities) and notices that you are online on Facebook. I’m sure you can guess that despite being ‘friends’ on Facebook, this will not go down well. Regardless of how much we try, there is the odd chance that out of the hundreds of friends we have on Facebook, there are one or two we didn’t know we were friends with and this can include work colleagues. This therefore means that we never know who has access to our information which is why we should be savvy.
There is a place for workplace relationships and that is on LinkedIn. Use your LinkedIn profile to stay connected with old and new work colleagues who you have not necessarily become ‘friends’ with but want to stay connected with professionally. Get them to provide you with professional recommendations and vice versa. This way you can grow your career in a responsible manner and stay safe online.
If you would like advice or training on how to use Facebook, or other aspects of Social Media for either professional or personal purposes, contact Idyll Consulting by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.