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My girlfriend gets multiple friend requests, messages(emoji only) and likes on Facebook and Instagram from a colleague at work. The person is so assertive that after an unfriend, he continued with this behaviour even more agressively.

Should the person be blocked?

Should I talk to him?

Should she talk to him?

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    Is this person a colleague of hers, of a colleague of yours? – dwjohnston Jan 28 at 4:47
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    The colleague is of hers – Darkov Jan 28 at 9:34
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    Has she communicated specifically that what she wants is not to be friends? An Unfriend step could happen for a variety of reasons, and an absence of a response from her falls far short of saying out loud there is a problem (i.e, merely hinting is a bad idea). – donjuedo Jan 28 at 13:14
65

Should the person be blocked?

If she wants to stop their behavior on social media then yes the person should be blocked.

If the person speaks to her about it at work, she needs to respond with something like:

I am not going to discuss non work related matters with you, please do not speak to me about this again.

If the person persists, she should report this employee to HR or whomever is responsible for harassment.

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  • It might also be successful if the boyfriend sends him a short, non-threatening but just plain statement of "please stop contacting my girlfriend on social media" as a first step. Then do what you suggest. (It is just less paperwork and at least there is a chance that OP gets the result he wants without any further escalation) – Stian Yttervik Jan 28 at 9:50
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    @Stian I dont think thats a good idea. It might be interpreted as "aw, cant defend herself" – Martijn Jan 28 at 10:02
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    @Martijn Certainly not without the go ahead from his girlfriend, if I forgot to mention that... The point is: He(stalker?) is expecting some sort of feedback from the girlfriend. It is playing into the hand of the opponent. A stranger contacting him directly may possibly not be a part of the plan, and could lead to better effects. Could lead to the cessation of contact, which is the main goal. Creating trouble for this stalker at his place of work is certainly not an unwanted effect, but it is a secondary goal, as I see it. – Stian Yttervik Jan 28 at 10:29
  • Does her workplace have any sort of rules/protocol/code of conduct regarding this? If there's trustworthy people in HR on the company, letting them know about abusive behaviour of a colleague would be beneficial. But the organisation has to be willing to hear these sort of issues - and getting involved. – mgarciaisaia Jan 28 at 13:43
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    Even if the workplace doesn't explicitly have rules around this, in some jurisdictions it may fall under the employer's legal responsibilities to prevent harassment and protect employees from it because both individuals share a workplace. – alroc Jan 28 at 14:33
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Should the person be blocked?

Yes. Her social media should also be set to private so that only her name and profile picture can be seen by outsiders. Personal information should be set to private or friends only such as her age, location, etc.

Should I talk to him?

No.

Should she talk to him?

No.

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Yes, she should block him, but she should also email him using work email saying:

Hey Bob,

Just to be clear, I'm not interested in you, nor am I interested in being friends with you. If you try to contact me one more time outside of work, I will report you to HR for harassment. Do you understand?

It's important to do this in writing, this way she has a time-stamped written record of her request with him. This answer is partially based on a previous answer I gave to a slightly similar question.

On a side-note, blocking him on Facebook/Instagram won't remove his existing likes on her posts/pictures, but it will prevent him from seeing her posts/pictures on his timeline from then on, so it will ultimately prevent him from adding future likes/comments on her stuff.

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    Don't include "I'm sorry". There is nothing to be sorry for, and if anything the apologetic tone gives the jerk permission to carry on being a jerk. – Julia Hayward Jan 28 at 12:48
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    @JuliaHayward, Ok, I just changed it. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 28 at 13:28
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    I like this one the most. Some cultures/personalities have the concept of "playing hard to get". A direct, unambiguous message like this will definitely get through to the colleague. There is no room for discussion. Also, making it clear that she will involve company reps(HR), should he have any contact with her outside of work purpose, should have the effect of colleague refocusing efforts elsewhere("My job/career is not worth jeopardizing"). And if colleague's response is "Was looking to be friends", colleague will get over it and move on. – Alan Jan 28 at 14:03
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Should the person be blocked?

Yes she should do this if she doesn't want any more insinuations from this colleague.

If this starts to cross the thin line of harassment, she could also consider reporting the user.

Additionally, it is usually recommended to keep separate profiles for your personal and professional network users, so incidents like these don't happen (or at least happen less often).

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    How do you keep separate profiles for your personal and professional network on Facebook? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 28 at 13:21
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Usually, you don't have a Professional Facebook account. Unless it's a page (not a "regular" account). For professional networking places like LInkedIn are more focused on the professional aspect. Facebook is more personal and informal in a way. – DarkCygnus Jan 28 at 15:43
  • Yes, but it's Facebook. Because OP asked about Facebook. The social aspects of Facebook are positively corrosive, which is why I tell my over-50 friends "don't join". You will have your coworkers try to friend you on Facebook, and there's not a darned thing you can do about it. Anything you do is either rude, or crossing that line you speak of. So this answer would be much improved by fleshing out how to do that, instead of just armwaving that it's surely possible. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 28 at 15:55
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Thanks for your suggestion. Honestly, each day I use Facebook less and less... also, in a way I am telling OP "not to foo the bar", by suggesting not to use Facebook as professional network. I thank your feedback, but I already suggested a course of action for the actual question asked (block, report, etc.). Surely there can be coworkers that are not noxious and that one can accept their requests and don't get harassed :) but if/when to accept/reject them should be done in a case-by-case basis and is also something only OP can decide (also why I won't elaborate on that) – DarkCygnus Jan 28 at 16:10
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This man is harassing your girlfriend. He keeps ignoring boundaries.

  1. She should tell him verbally to stop contacting her on social media. Once and once only. She should not attempt to explain, justify, negotiate nor argue with him. That opens the door for him to use DARVO. This is where the offender attempts to Deny the behavior, Attack the victim and reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.

  2. If he refuses to stop, document each and every time he attempts to contact her. The diary she keeps these details in need to leave the office every day with her.

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The best way to handle this is in stages. First, she should talk to him. The message should be clear (and kind). If that does not work, she should block him. If it comes to that, Stephan's suggestion of mentioning a report to HR is a good idea.

But hopefully, the first step is all that would be needed. It is how most people want to be treated anyway.

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  • The problem with 2 phases, is the colleague might take phase 1 as a resistance, and hint to try harder, thereby having the opposite effect. Depending on the culture of colleague, it might not come across clear and unambiguously. In some cultures, I have noticed that a show of resistance is a prerequisite to courting/wooing for a long term, stable relationship. – Alan Jan 28 at 14:25
  • The OP should know if "please stop" = "try harder" in his culture. But I certainly would not propagate such a confusing norm to other cultures. – donjuedo Jan 28 at 14:41

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