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Before I hired in at my current company I was in a class with owner of the company. He added me on Facebook which was no problem at the time because we were just classmates. Now that I work for him, I don't really want him as my Facebook friend because I don't consider that professional. What is a good way to un-friend him on Facebook that won't cause any trouble. I'm not sure what I should say when talking to him about it.

  • Is your concern privacy (what posts he can see) or appearances (that people can see you two are FB friends)? – Monica Cellio May 5 '14 at 3:16
  • I think the concern is mostly privacy. I don't want him to see everything I post about. – David May 5 '14 at 3:18
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    You don't have to unfriend him; you can create a new group, assign him to it, and then set your privacy settings so that members of that group only see a very limited number of things. Or you can unfriend him without saying anything at all about it. It's not like Facebook sends "you have been unfriended" notifications. – aroth May 5 '14 at 4:07
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    @aroth Write that as an answer instead of a comment, because that is exactly what I would do. – Fredrik May 5 '14 at 7:33
  • @Fredrik - But if a question asks 'How should I do X', isn't 'don't do X' basically a non-answer? It's like when someone asks 'How do I make this cool iOS thing work' and then someone "answers" with 'that cool iOS thing is under NDA, you can't talk about it'. I don't want to be that jerk. Besides, ADTC made essentially the same suggestion and got voted into oblivion for it. – aroth May 6 '14 at 1:30
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First of all, your assumption should be that he sees everything you post about in the first place. In general - assume everything that's on social networks, your boss can know. The trick is not to put there stuff that can get you into trouble in the first place.

Anything you post on social networks cannot be assumed to be private:

  • What if other classmates show your boss? Don't you have mutual friends?
  • What if one of your mutual friends likes a status, or comments on it?
  • What if one of your friends shares it, then one of his friends likes it?

The only reasonable assumption in my opinion is that everything you share on social networks is as good as public. Never assume it's private information. Never post private information on Facebook or other social media.

Assuming your concern was privacy - in my opinion don't publish anything really private on Facebook in the first place. Now, there is a layer of indirectness here:

You told your boss you're late because you're not feeling great, but you actually went to interview for another place. On your way there you ran into a friend who took a picture of you having coffee and you forgot to tell them not to upload it. Now what?

You can control who can tag you, in which photos, who can post to your timeline, and so on. Restrict those things to the point you feel comfortable with their privacy settings.

I feel like I have to mention that it's generally not a good idea to badmouth your employer on the internet - although that wasn't the question and I think you already realize that.

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    You didn't tell why it could be a good idea not to remove that friendship. Going from friend to boss is painful too. Even simple things like proposing to go eating can be awkward and you end not doing it but waiting for your "ex-friend" to propose it, apart if it was a really good friend. Cuting those links can be necessary but it should be done gently and without excess, to help the boss feel less lonely. If he's not stupid, the boss will understand he doesn't see everything but it would be hard to completely and abruptly close everything. – Denys Séguret May 5 '14 at 6:04
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    Very good note. @dystroy . I completely forgot to mention what I said in my comment to the other answer - that unfriending someone on Facebook can be very easily seen as an aggressive act. – Benjamin Gruenbaum May 5 '14 at 6:12
  • Thanks. I don't really have anything to be worried about when it comes to posting. Sometimes though other people might find weird how awesome I think cats are. – David May 6 '14 at 1:48
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It seems you're concerned about keeping good boundaries between your personal and work life. That is admirable and wise.

"Unfriending" the boss is not insulting him. Facebook is a tool, not an expression of your inmost soul. Seriously.

You might set up a Linked In account for work. Then simply tell your boss, "I use my facebook account for my personal account." Then ask him to connect on Linked In. Tell him that you're trying to set appropriate boundaries. He'll either understand, or he'll learn from what you tell him. Either outcome is OK.

(In my case, I use Facebook for work. I don't have my family or close friends as "friends" on facebook. That sometimes annoys them, but they understand that I need to keep good boundaries.)

  • "Facebook is a tool, not an expression of your inmost soul" - Lol... take away someone's facebook or tweeter and see how quickly they decline ;) – user25792 Jul 31 '14 at 17:52
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Just send him a message on Facebook saying, 'Hey, now that we're working together in a professional context I thought I'd unfriend you here', and then unfriend him.

If he's a reasonable person, he'll understand.

These kinds of conversations, can be a bit uncomfortable to consider doing, but when you have them, they're totally fine.

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    From my experience he might take offense. – Benjamin Gruenbaum May 5 '14 at 5:32
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    Why do it via a message on Facebook? It's reasonable to assume that the @Tesseract & his boss talk and probably see each regularly - do it in a face to face conversation. – alroc May 5 '14 at 12:34
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I would suggest you to restrict at first, slowly increasing the restrictions over time. After a while if your boss doesn't talk anything about your Facebook activities (such as your photos disappearing, or no new status updates from you), unfriend him silently.

This can however be tricky when you have mutual friends, in which case it's usually better to just put your boss in the highest restriction, but keep the connection.

There is no need to mention anything about unfriending your boss, because you are not required professionally to divulge information about your personal life unless any such information is specifically required as per your employment contract.

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    That's passive aggressive and silly. – geekrunner May 5 '14 at 5:29
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    "Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, sarcasm, hostile jokes, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible." I don't see how removing a connection on a social media website who doesn't care about your social media activities qualifies as 'passive aggressive', let alone silly. – ADTC May 5 '14 at 5:36
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    This type of behavior is the exact reason I don't have a Facebook account. – Donald May 5 '14 at 11:00

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