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I've had a pretty good working relationship with my boss for the past 1 1/2 years. He trusts me to deal with the problems he gives me, I give him the best quality work that I can, occasionally there are some hangups but in general I do good work for him, he appreciates me, and we get along well in the office.

A short time ago, while I was at home, I noticed my boss's name on Facebook, as an invitation to become a Facebook Friend with him.

Now, I don't normally post racy or inappropriate things on my Facebook (I have my family to discourage me from doing that), and I don't usually post inflammatory work-related things on it either (because I know better than to do that), but I am a bit of a nerd and I don't know if my boss's political leaning is in-line with mine (I think it is, but it hasn't really come up).

Do I have anything to worry about? Is it appropriate to accept this invitation?

Note that I don't ever go on Facebook during work, even during hours when nothing is really going on, because I know sometimes my Facebook Friends might post something that is not work-appropriate (again, nothing really racy or inappropriate, just inappropriate for a work environment).

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25  
The number of bad stories that result from friending your boss on Facebook vastly outnumber the good ones. :) –  Irwin Mar 21 at 17:59
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You could add him but set him in a list that does not mix with your other friends, like "Acquaintances". I post almost exclusively to my "Friends except acquaintances" list. This does leave you at the whim of the Zuckerbeast when it decides to change the privacy settings for the nth time, though. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Mar 21 at 19:02
1  
Facebook used to allow a certain amount of control over who got to see what on your profile/wall, and you could create groups of peers with different permissions. I'm not sure if this would help that. Another option which I know several people have chosen is to create two profiles, a "work" profile which they keep very modest and conservative and work/family friendly. They also have a more personal profile which is where all the "interesting" stuff is... ;) –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 21 at 21:01

7 Answers 7

up vote 36 down vote accepted

Friending your boss can indeed be a very bad idea. Unless you are already actual friends who do things together outside of work, its bad form for him to have sent you the friend request in the first place and put you on the spot.

An approach to handling this is to thank him for the friend request, but tell him you'd prefer to keep your work life and home life separated online. That will help assure him its not a personal problem you have with him. If you use LinkedIn, that might be a better network to 'friend' him on.

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24  
Honestly, ignoring it until they asked about it probably would be the actual approach I took if this happened. –  GrandmasterB Mar 21 at 18:21
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I think it's going to probably be my approach too...hooray for cowardice! (better part of valor) –  Zibbobz Mar 21 at 18:24
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I have friends who keep a separate Facebook account for work friends. Not sure if it helps. –  DJClayworth Mar 21 at 20:49
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I have been in this situation myself. This is the approach I took myself. I first politely told him at the office that I had seen the request, but that I was going to decline, because I don't like to mix work with private life if I can avoid it. Then I declined. He was OK with that. In fact he later came back to me and told me my statement had got him thinking about this and he would stop inviting employees and would unfriend the ones that had already accepted. He actually did that the same day. –  Tonny Mar 22 at 14:29
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@DJClayworth I think this is a horrible idea: the simpler the better. If I have to split my accounts in two, I'd rather have none. –  Lohoris Mar 22 at 23:51

The best thing to do would be to add him to a list that you restrict access/visibility to.

I have had business acquaintances and other people I do not really know add me on facebook. I don't want people whom I don't know to see mine or my family's personal lives.

I am not worried about inappropriate posts or hiding anything, it's just getting too personal with people I am not personal with.

So adding them to different lists with different visibility permissions and being mindful when you post stuff of who you intend to share with.

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1  
+1 for this. I have a list called 'limited profile', which I restrict as much as possible. Whenever I get awkward friend requests such as this, I just add them to 'limited profile'。 –  Hugh Mar 22 at 4:11
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there is also built-in "restricted" list offered by facebook. Using that list only thing showing is what is public anyway. It's a reasonable default, which I use for some family members. –  eis Mar 22 at 11:48
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Facebook has a history of changing their security controls and, at times, has fouled up by giving things more visibility than you had originally set them to. –  Chris Lively Mar 24 at 16:53

Be blunt. Tell your boss that you have friends and family who occasionally post stuff that would make a US Navy sailor blush and you don't want to expose him to that, especially since you are unwilling to pay the price of not letting your friends and family do their thing :) Don't make it more complicated than it actually is - just say "no" :)

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The answer is related to what you are connecting, and how you know your boss. If you know him socially, i.e. you spend time with him outside of work, you may consider connecting to him (but maybe worth pre-warning him about zany cousin Bob who should carry a parental warning sticker).

If your relationship is purely work related, I'd avoid Facebook, maybe offer to connect via Linkedin etc (although that can have its' own issues if you decide to look for a new job).

If he's already sent a request, I'd politely reply declining, but explaining that you're not snubbing him, but you do keep things separate (and maybe suggesting the alternate as above)

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LinkedIn is for professional connections; Facebook is for friends and family. Not only is adding your boss a bad idea for your job, it can be dangerous to your career and it was inappropriate for your boss to put you in the awkward position of having to make this decision. You deserve to be comfortable and goofy on your personal Facebook page just as you would in the comfort of your own home--having your boss watching isn't conducive to this.

My suggestion would be to ignore the invite altogether. I have invitations from people that have been sitting in my inbox for years.

If your boss follows up on the request, you may tell him/her that you are actually trying to pare down your friends list to only your closest friends and family as it is just becoming a big distraction for you otherwise. You can welcome him to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Good luck!

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That's it, you just lost your Job. (just joking)

isn't there any group option, that you can separate your boss from your normal friends and put some of your friends in that same group that you know they wont do anything stupid, maybe warn them that your boss is in there and check some security settings to see if you can block some options that may cause problems like posting on your wall.

If you don't accept your boss as a friend, it wont go down well.

If it bothers you that much, get out of Facebook book altogether.

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This has always been a tricky issue. On one hand, many people are averse to adding co-workers on Facebook per the reasons given above. But at the same time, things could become awkward if you reject someone's friend request. Suppose your manager is considering whether to give you a raise. If you declined his friend request, and he ultimately doesn't promote you, how do you know it's not because you "snubbed" him?

That said, I would recommend accepting his friend request, but only after making sure he can't see anything that would be inappropriate for work. Your manager isn't going to be able to access all the details of your private life just because you're connected, especially when you have the appropriate privacy settings in place. It's not so much who you connect with, but what you post and who you share it with.

I hope this helps.

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