For a while, I've been wondering on what do I have to do to avoid appearing unprofessional on my Facebook profile—I have quite a good reason to think about it.

Within this issue, I wonder about my friends. Seeing what kind of people do I have contact with may influence, how the HR employees view me as a potential member of the company.

On the other hand, I consider my list of friends a part of my privacy; therefore I usually hide it, so only common friends are visible.

A friend of mine told me that hiding stuff from Facebook may imply that I have something to hide, which is not a positive sign for the human resource department. Does it include such a minor case, too?

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    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/11660/2322
    – enderland
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 22:05
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    So wait, your friends list is already non-public but you're talking about specifically making it more private by not letting friends see all your friends unless they also have them added? If that's the case, what the hell is HR doing on your friends list that they would even notice that?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 0:38
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    Is your user name your real name? If you're worried about maintaining your privacy, I would recommend removing your real name and photo here, particularly since you also refer to your handle "Katamori" in your profile. I'm guessing that you post and say many things behind your anonymous handle that you wouldn't want your employer to associate with you.
    – David K
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 13:30
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    Since when is your social media HR's business? Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 19:39
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    It shouldn't matter either way. But its one of the million reasons I try to minimize any data I put on facebook. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 22:28

6 Answers 6


I have kept my Facebook profile private at all times. There's nothing unprofessional about it. Facebook to me is my social life, outside of work. It is also the reason I don't accept Facebook requests from colleagues.

For professional networking, I use LinkedIn. Any company that wants to know what I do in my spare time and judges me on that, is not a company I would want to work for.

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    As far as I concern, I've created a secondary profile for my former internship colleagues, I think it's going to be handy in the future, for contact with professional people. And while I use Linkedin, as well, there's very little stuff to read and very few people to contact with, for me, so far. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 22:14
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    I would suggest to start building your LinkedIn profile. Add courses you took, projects you did for companies. Pet-projects and open source projects you contributed to are also highly valuable.
    – R-D
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 22:24
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    @Lilienthal I was merely suggesting that if op wants to keep in contact with (former) colleagues, a linkedin profile would be better than his personal Facebook profile.
    – R-D
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 7:08
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    I know for a fact that many HR departments do search for potential candidates on LinkedIn and put at least a little weight on what kinds of endorsements, etc. people have there. LinkedIn might help and is extremely unlikely to hurt unless you put something really unfortunate there, so why not do it? Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 13:21
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    Linkedin is pretty much unusable as social network due to sheer amount of recruiters asking to add them.
    – Agent_L
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 14:03

A friend of mine told me that hiding stuff from Facebook may imply that I have something to hide, which is not a positive sign for the human resource department.

With all due respect, your friend has no clue what he's talking about. To a very large extent, HR doesn't care what you do when you're out of work, so long as it can't be connected back to the company, and Facebook is part of your personal life. I'd be a lot more worried about a Facebook profile which contained personal details of friends' lives than a locked down one - the former starts me thinking "will this employee post our company details on Facebook?", the latter says "this person understands how to separate his personal life from his public one".


On the contrary, I think not hiding your friend list is unprofessional. I'll get back to that in a second here.

It is well-known that recruiters/HR look through your online life. It is well-documented that people have lost jobs because of what they said or did on social networks. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are not a hard-core party person (or if you are, don't tell me about it*). As other people have commented, what you do on your own time is generally not the business of your employer. Who your friends are is your business.

I said I'd get back to that thought. Here it is: Who your friend are is your business. If you advertise who you hang out with in your own time, you can be guilty by association. Are you friends people who post questionable political messages? Do they party but you stay at home? If you don't show it, HR won't find it. As long as you don't come to work drunk or high, HR typically doesn't care. What they are looking for when they look through your online life is if you are someone who goes out to party every night. That can be a sign that someone is less reliable. They want to distance themselves from people are "alt-right" (right-wing) or "alt-left" (left-wing). It isn't about you, it's the impact to the company and the brand image that you will be representing.

Anything you post online can be construed as "my employer leans this way politically" or "heyyyyy, i'm up partying all night, they don't care of i come in late."

It's less about having something to hide, and more about keeping you and your friends private. It's none of my business who your friends are, until it impacts me as an employer.

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    Not hiding your friends list is not unprofessional because your use of social media is not under the jurisdiction of your employer: your employer does not own your life. Some employers see things differently. My advice to anyone would be to avoid such employers.
    – Ant P
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:29
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    @hlgem nods. It ia currently much abused term, Also confusing is alt as in 'alternate right' and the alt (German for old) right as in the Nazi's.
    – Hennes
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 16:42
  • @Hennes: Presumably you meant alt + Reich, which sounds sufficiently similar to be confused.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 23:12
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    It's not German; it's a shortening of alternative right, referring to ultra-conservatives, fascists, white supremacists and so on, who dismiss the traditional conservative (right-wing) policies as ineffective, and take a more radical stance. Alt-left isn't a commonly-used term, but it can be taken to mean the same thing - those who take left-wing ideologies to a comparable extreme.
    – flith
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:04
  • @AntP your personal views, can conflict with a companies views, if your also the person who speaks for the company. So having a public private social media can conflict with a professional one. Your personal views can become your problem when you publicly conflict with a company's view on a subject
    – Donald
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 2:47

A friend of mine told me that hiding stuff from Facebook may imply that I have something to hide, which is not a positive sign for the human resource department. Does it include such a minor case, too?

Who doesn't have anything to hide?! You show each person just some aspects of your life, and Facebook most of the times involves some aspects that you just share with your close friends. Is your HR one of your close friends? If yes, then they may be annoyed if you prevent them from having access to your account, but should it affect their decision? No. And if they are not your friend it is considered rude to ask about your Facebook account.

Please notice that sometimes in an interview they ask you about the leisure activities you do in your spare times but that's because they want to assess your attitude and general behavior, however, going further is not acceptable at all, at least to me and anyone whom I know.

Note: Perhaps if you want to work in a secret agency like CIA, MI5 or like that they care about these things as well, as it's a completely different story.

  • If you work for a TLA, setting your Facebook profile to private is futile.
    – SQB
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 15:40

Something nobody has touched on yet: it is now becoming a recommended practice to keep your friends list private to protect you from a "cloned profile attack," in which a scammer will scrape your account, set up a complete duplicate of it, and send requests to all your friends, after which the scammer can message them to try to extract money or something else, completing the scam. Most scammers who do this are smart enough to block you once they have all your data so that you can't even directly see that they're doing it.

Keeping your friends list private breaks a crucial part in the vulnerability chain that allows them to do this. Any intelligent HR needs to understand this, as it's a completely legitimate reason to hide one's friend list beyond just "being secretive".

See this help topic from Facebook for more info.

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    While this could be good advice, it doesn't remotely answer the question which is "Is hiding my friendlist on Facebook a bad sign for the HR?". Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:25
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    @PhilipKendall (Added this to the answer) If HR is at all intelligent with current technology trends (a tall order perhaps), they'll understand that it has a legitimate purpose much akin to locking one's front door. It substantially weakens the "you must have something to hide" argument.
    – Tristan
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:33
  • @Tristan nicely put, I'd even add that it does not require a scammer to do harm by having that list. Unethical management/HR could actually go through the list in order to replace the OP by one of his/her more experienced/skillful friends (perhaps with the same or similar degrees).
    – CPHPython
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 16:35

I think in this day and age, it's safe to assume to that your Facebook account may be monitored in some way or another -- either by your current employer or a future one.

To counter this, it is now relatively common for people to now have two facebook accounts:

  • One a public facing one with a smaller friends list where public conversations and cat memes get posted

  • One a private one where the drunken debauchery photos get posted.

You could show your public facebook to your company and keep your private facebook private.

  • Why was this downvoted, it is a good method for dealing with the expectations of the kind of employer who thinks their staff's social media is any of their business. Only thing is that it might be theoretically against FB's policy ... so what, FB try to have their way, this type of employer tries to have their way, so the missing piece of the puzzle is you trying to have your way. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:32
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    I think the only correct way to deal with the expectations of an employer who thinks your social media is any of their business is to run like hell in the opposite direction, not start a surveillance arms race.
    – Anko
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:58
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    @rackandboneman Because it's not an answer to the question which is "Is hiding my friendlist on Facebook a bad sign for the HR?". Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:32
  • @Anko for some, it might be advantageous that everyone else is running like hell :) Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 17:02
  • Isn't this against facebook terms of use?
    – Ángel
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 23:50

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