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I accepted a new offer of work, and then while on-boarding, they asked me for my Facebook link. I declined to supply it, because I have political, religious, and offensive humor on there... that would be completely inappropriate to share with a work group.

They are demanding a link though, because the group uses Facebook for their ongoing communication, coordination, and other development (i.e. scrum). I realize I could create a new page, but that still ties to my personal account that I can't share professionally.

I know I could use a separate email and create a new FB account, but that violates ToS, and can be problematic for other reasons as noted in this related question: How to separate personal Facebook from professional FB while getting full benefit of FB? Another answer to the linked question is to manage it very hands-on, who is who in which group, and what posts go where... but that sounds like regrettable mistakes just begging to happen.

Any ideas on how I can better isolate / partition the personal and the work Facebook activities?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Apr 23 at 13:41

10 Answers 10

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This is a big red flag. If it's really integral to their internal communications then they would have it organised and would give you an account to use.

Just the fact that it's in use is a flag, but requiring your personal one sets the flag on fire.

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    @TymoteuszPaul sure, but if it's integral to an IT company they should have it organised properly and be making, controlling and issuing the accounts. Rather than sellotaping staffs personal accounts to theirs. That creates a bunch of info security risks that shouldn't be taken. – Kilisi Apr 20 at 23:48
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    @TymoteuszPaul Facebook has had lots of issues with their security permissions letting people see things users don't expect, so I wouldn't recommend relying on that to keep your data private. – Kat Apr 21 at 18:34
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    from the question: "Any ideas on how I can better isolate / partition the personal and the work Facebook activities?" What is your advice? To not take the job? – Michael Apr 21 at 23:02
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    @Michael jobs don't grow on trees, but I'd ask them to issue me a fb account and move forwards from their response. Jobs come and go, your identity doesn't so in my case despite having nothing to hide on fb I wouldn't use mine. – Kilisi Apr 21 at 23:23
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    While everything in this is true, this doesn't answer the question. – corsiKa Apr 22 at 4:38
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Just make a new account. It's Facebook's Terms of Service for goodness' sake, it's not a big deal. You'll probably only use it at work, and you should definitely not be on Facebook at work if you're posting crap, so it's unlikely that anyone will notice.

If you only use it at work, for work purposes, then there is no way for them to connect you to the account.

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    Make a business page for "Dan's Software Development" (or whatever you do) which is allowed by Facebook. blog.hootsuite.com/steps-to-create-a-facebook-business-page – DJClayworth Apr 21 at 13:02
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    Frankly Facebook has no real means of connecting two accounts like this, creating a new account for work isn't going to cause any problems. They don't like people doing it, but they can't do anything about it. – Ruadhan2300 Apr 21 at 13:37
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    It's still very unfortunate that they use such an unprofessional tool for their correspondence - especially with the security risks it introduces - but if you still need this job, this is the correct answer. – Zibbobz Apr 21 at 17:36
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    @Ruadhan2300 going to heavily disagree with this claim. From personal experience they are extraordinarily good at connecting identities. They spend giant mounds of cash on things to accomplish that goal, it's basically a core business. Not that I think Facebook would be particularly aggressive at enforcing that part of the tos, though. – eps Apr 21 at 18:32
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    @bharal I have to second eps. They absolutely can - and will - make connections based on a combination of browsing history, connections, OS/browser fingerprints, IP addr, location, plus more subtle things like mouse movements, scroll speed, content dwell time, etc, etc. Analysing this sort of data is absolutely at the heart of their business. (cont'd) – pcdev Apr 22 at 4:39
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"the group uses Facebook for their ongoing communication, coordination, and other development (i.e. scrum)."

IMO using Facebook for work communications isn't very professional and I can see why you are not keen. However, it sounds like your employer is entrenched in the system and doesn't want to migrate to a different one. I don't think you have many options other than to join in or find another employer.

Best bet is to create a new account which is completely disjoint from your regular account.

This isn't a "good" solution but it is much easier than any of the alternatives.

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  • What about people that don't/want facebook? – Jungkook Apr 23 at 14:42
  • Just create a "Mickey Mouse" account for work? But the much much bigger burning blood red flag is that a company uses a platform whose core business is data collection for company confidential material. They are just asking for confidential info to be leaked and abused. And guess who will get the blame in public? Hint: it does not start with "F". – Juha Untinen Apr 23 at 20:53
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Let's make a specific solution to this.

Refuse to give them your personal Facebook link.

The company cannot demand that you use personal property, including websites, for your work. And you are well within your rights not to give them access.

But the more important part is:

Tell them that on day 1 of your employment you will show them several much better ways to handle their communication for free.

Then on day 1 (or sooner if you like) introduce them to any of the dozens of communication platforms that are free for small teams. Candidates include:

There are plenty of others. Google chat or Skype would probably do the job.

If they don't like this idea then create a new blank Facebook account specially for work, not linked to your personal account, using a different email, and send them that. If they don't like that then there is some shady reason they want your Facebook account.

Use this for a while, but as soon as you start work set up one of the above platforms and get people to start using it. Other employees are almost certainly just as annoyed as you about having to use their personal accounts. With any luck you can get them converted from Facebook in a few weeks and you can delete your second account.

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    This is a good answer but I find it highly unlikely they are unaware that other options exist. Most likely they will say thanks no thanks. But who knows +1 – eps Apr 21 at 18:26
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    I am sometimes surprised about what companies don't know. In any case I can think of absolutely no reason why a company would choose to use Facebook for team communication over a free tool designed for the job and used by tens of thousands of companies of all sizes - unless the deliberately want to have access to my personal Facebook account, in which case they can take their job and shove it. – DJClayworth Apr 21 at 18:59
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    I strongly disagree with the first half of your answer. Stepping into a company, refusing to use their existing tools, and then suggesting some alternatives when it is completely out of the scope of your job to make those decisions is never going to work. At best, they will say no. Worst case, you will get a reputation as being difficult and unreasonable. They clearly think the system is working for them at the moment or they'd be searching for something else. You need credibility, authority and trust to convince them to change. These things are all earned; you don't have them as a new joiner – Michael Apr 21 at 22:59
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    @Michael Under normal circumstances I would agree but using personal Facebook accounts is not "normal circumstances". The company is either utterly ignorant or has never taken the trouble to think about the problem (or has a deceitful agenda). A good company will listen to sensible suggestions whoever they come from. – DJClayworth Apr 21 at 23:10
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    @DJClayworth Sorry, but you don't stroll into Google, shoot an email to Sundar on your first day and tell him you've been having some thoughts on how to increase PPC ad venue. Like I said, in their mind the system is working. Even if a system is free, there is an opportunity cost incurred by migrating. So they will not change, and I see no upside in suggesting it. – Michael Apr 21 at 23:49
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The company is skimping on security. If it’s on Facebook, no matter what, they should assume it is visible to all the world. Same with WhatsApp. Nothing should ever be posted there that the company doesn’t want the whole world to know. Including their competitors, evil hackers, or courts if they get sued.

Unless your principles are worth more to you than having a job, create a Facebook account that clearly identifies you as an employee of the company. Put no private information on it. And put no company information on it that could get you personally in trouble.

I would say the terms of service are mostly there to protect Facebook if something goes wrong. Like some information leaks out, and your company sues Facebook for gazillions because Facebook leaked info from their company accounts, then Facebook says “look at our terms of service, it says no company accounts, all the damage is your own fault”.

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This is a red flag. If they're going to skimp on this. What else are they going to skimp on?

Will you need to supply your own laptop? Will they pay for software licenses? Will you be expected to work without standard professional software? Or will you be expected to pirate the software you need?

Right now, you should be asking them all kinds of tough questions.

Another answer to the linked question is to manage it very hands-on, who is who in which group, and what posts go where... but that sounds like regrettable mistakes just begging to happen.

Assuming you don't want to pull out now, I'd suggest you create a second account using a second email address. Use a different browser for each account (or a different browser profile for each account). And make your primary account as private as possible.

To make sure you don't mistake one account for another. Style each browser (or each profile) with a different avatar, a different color, and a different background image.

If you can afford it, you could even buy yourself a cheap Chromebook/Chromebox and maintain a physical separation between your personal computer and your work computer.

Personally, I find that having a physical separation between the two types of environment actually helps a lot with my own productivity. And if I want to check my personal Facebook, or my personal email, or whatever, I'll get up from my desk and go to a different room to do it in.

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  • 'Will they pay for software licenses?' Nah, they probably want him to download the torrents at home, then bring them to the office on a USB stick. – Ivana Apr 22 at 14:42
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I see 3 realistic solutions:

1. Make a separate account.

  • Pro: Company is happy
  • Con: You've violated the ToS, but realistically nothing will happen.
  • Con: Company might find and ask about the private account, or question why this account has no activity

2. Do a deep dive and clean up your original account. Delete controversial posts, group associations and photos. Commit to not using it for personal reasons until you've left the company.

  • Pro: Company is happy
  • Pro: You don't risk them finding and asking about the private account
  • Con: There is a chance you'll miss something
  • Con: You lose the ability to speak openly on Facebook (maybe try Twitter)

3. Quit

  • Pro: You don't have the problem
  • Con: You don't have a job
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  • 4. Don't to anything, evade giving them the link. – Ivana Apr 22 at 14:43
  • I won't backvote your answer but "speak openly on Facebook" makes me laugh, how can you imagine just one second to speak openly in a walled garden? – gouessej Apr 22 at 14:57
  • @Ivana 4.1) get fired, or sabotage your career there sufficiently that you may as well have been fired. Goto 3 – Michael Apr 22 at 17:33
  • "You've violated the ToS, but realistically nothing will happen." This is bad advice. Violating a ToS has been construed as "unauthorized access to a computer system" in multiple jurisdictions. – evandentremont Apr 22 at 17:58
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    @evandentremont How many of those cases involved Facebook? Tech companies like Facebook derive significant value from positive public opinion. It allows them to avoid government scrutiny and regulation in a way that a less popular company cannot. They have absolutely nothing to gain from litigating against an individual, even if there is legal precedent that they'd be able to win, and plenty to lose. The absolute worst case scenario is that both accounts are deactivated. Hardly the end of the world. – Michael Apr 22 at 18:12
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First, Facebook changed a lot of stuff from its earliest days and today is a more privacy-aware service. In the end, you might theoretically be able to separate offensive content from the visibility of your future coworkers. But that's a tough job, especially if for some reason you want to post content publicly. And on the other hand, having a personal FB account and posting publicly content from there doesn't prevent your company to spot that content.

In the end, I would straight go to the secondary account way. Facebook is great at detecting duplicate accounts. They may link those internally, but before action is taken and both profiles are suspended, a lot of time will be past.

If that happens, FB will suspend both accounts and then you could

  1. Blame FB for having blocked you from accessing work network. The company is liable for not using a proprietary business platform with an SLA or at least internal account management (MS Office, for example, won't ban individual employees account)
  2. Discuss with FB moderators about your suspension and justify it was done to separate work from private life. FB has no interest in permanently deleting accounts of real individuals. That plays against them.

Disclaimer. I left Facebook more than 13 years ago.

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Different companies use different collaboration tools. Often these are completely ad-hoc solutions, never designed for this sort of thing.

I know of a few industries, organizations and roles where it's normal and expected to use personal social network accounts and their tools for work communication, both internal and external.

However, these are all highly customer-facing industries and roles, such as tourism, entertainment, and social media marketing. In tourism, this helps bring in repeat customers and their friends by making the connections more personal. In other industries, there are roles like brand ambassadors that can be expected to maintain their personal account in a way that aligns with the company's interests.

If you are in a non-public position of a typical software developer, there is no specific reason to use public social media accounts for work. This is most likely a sign that the company is in or barely past the start-up stage - something that started as a couple people talking about a pet project on Facebook, and has grown with little change.

In such extremely small, extremely informal companies, the definition of work-appropriateness is way broader than in traditional business. After all, how do you know your co-workers don't have even messier pages? If you're not sure if they care about that, you should ask and confirm.

For a larger company - basically, anywhere where your interview team didn't include the owner and CEO - still using ad-hoc tools like personal social network accounts would be a sign of growth problems and a red flag. Still, you can outline your concerns and ask if they've got other collaboration tools you could use. It could be that they're just about to migrate to something more professional.

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Any ideas on how I can better isolate / partition the personal and the work Facebook activities?

First of all, you should make sure that only your friends can see your "wall" and you tighten up your privacy settings so that strangers cannot see your content. You should no be relying on them not being able to find you to ensure they won't get offended. If you have offensive materials publicly visible on your Facebook page, then you are likely already doing yourself a disservice.

Sanitise any information that is publicly visible. Use incognito mode to make sure.

Then you give the organisation your account link.

What the most likely outcome is, they will get you to join a group. Joining a group does not give group members access to your wall, if you have set up your privacy settings correctly. They need to know your link to know who to grant access to.

From a technical perspective, business needs are met, and your privacy is retained.

Is it a massive red flag? No it isn't. In some fields and sizes of businesses it's not uncommon for people deciding processes and tools to not understand or feel comfortable with the wide variety of options out there. They understand Facebook, so that's what they'll use.

In an ideal world, they would supply all equipment required to get you to do your job. We don't live in an ideal world, and now is probably not the best time to be a troublemaker.

It's a good idea that once you get settled, suggest other forms of communication that don't require personal accounts.

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