I had been asked to do a bit of social media work. I gained access to my boss's personal Facebook messages, since the business page is linked to it.

I have been having a rough time at work, and went through her private messages to see what she has been saying about me. It turns out she's been trying to get me fired.

I want to report this to HR, but I'm scared it could backfire on me for snooping into my boss's private messages.

How do I proceed?

  • 15
    Wow.... you should have not looked into someones private messages, even though the account used is your boss'es – DarkCygnus Aug 2 '17 at 17:09
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    you should be fired for that, so karma strikes again? – SaggingRufus Aug 2 '17 at 17:10
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    Tough call. Personally, I'd fire both of you. You for exceeding your authority, and your boss for being stupid enough to give you access to their personal account rather than delegating the company page to you. Is your boss the owner? If they are, you have no recourse. Pack up and walk away. – Wesley Long Aug 2 '17 at 17:11
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    Part of your manager's job is to make assessments of people she supervises. She thinks you are not cutting it, and wants you fired, apparently. What, exactly, about that would you report to Human Resources? Even if you or higher-ups disagree, I'm not seeing what is inappropriate about that. – PoloHoleSet Aug 2 '17 at 17:14
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    What does "trying to get me fired" mean? Does it mean they're going through what can arguably be considered formal processes to fire you (or just honestly discussing your performance with higher-ups)? Or does it mean they're actively trying to sabotage you by e.g. making up obvious lies? – Bernhard Barker Aug 2 '17 at 17:51

The only way to proceed is to look for another job. You know your manager wants you gone. Usually, such wishes are supported by a company.

There's nothing to report to HR, because a manager deciding an underling should be fired is part of their job. There's nothing wrong with that, even if you don't like it.

There's also nothing to report to HR because you went through that person's personal messages on Facebook. I'd have to think, even as dumb as they were to give you that access, it would be considered an abuse of access they gave you, and that could get you fired. If you mention you did it, you're pretty much hanging a "fire me" sign on yourself.

Finally, you do deserve to be fired for that, technically. It is unethical for you to violate someone's privacy like that. It's best to get out while you might still get some kind of neutral recommendation or background check response. If anyone finds out that this was done in a work environment, you'll never get anything but a very negative response from this company if a future employer makes even basic inquiries.

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    @unknownunknown - Look for another job, first. Finding employment is much easier if you currently have a job. Companies and HR departments have an almost knee-jerk aversion to people who are currently "between jobs." If the current employer pulls the trigger, so be it, but I'd hold off notice until I'm ready to move, unless the situation is so toxic you just can't stay. – PoloHoleSet Aug 2 '17 at 17:24
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    @unknownunknown do not turn in your notice, find another job FIRST, then resign. Learn from your mishap here. – Neo Aug 2 '17 at 17:28
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    @MisterPositive Thanks. I see it as neutral. If we say that you can't declare an opinion that some actions deserve termination, then our advice isn't useful or honest. Polo didn't say he's a bad person or that he should have something horrible happen to him. He merely said that his actions warrant certain consequences. – Chris E Aug 2 '17 at 18:28
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    @MisterPositive - I did not call the OP anything horrible, I did not state that they were a bad person. I stated that their actions were completely unethical, which they were. Should that be sugar-coated? We had another user, previously, who was canned for financial misdeeds. Some actions in the workplace warrant firing. If I posted that I punched a co-worker, many might empathize and sympathize with why I did it, but the blunt assessment of "you deserve to be fired for punching a co-worker" would be a pretty objective assessment. Some things are universally "verboten." This is one. – PoloHoleSet Aug 2 '17 at 18:47
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    @MisterPositive - a similarly objective assessment of my communication style might be "you tend to be unnecessarily glib and blunt, at times." – PoloHoleSet Aug 2 '17 at 18:49

How do I proceed?

You know your boss is trying to get you fired, start looking for new employment ASAP and remember its always easier to find a job when you are currently employed.

Going to HR at this point is fruitless as it most likely will result in nothing more than a write up for you both, and your boss will now be more inclined to get rid of you then before.

As a piece of friendly advise and not to scold, but do learn from this. Never go through someone's personal information in any format again.

  • Downvoter's please elaborate so I can improve my answer. – Neo Aug 2 '17 at 18:25

First of all, you should not look into someone's private messages, even if they gave you some access to their accounts. This would be considered highly unprofessional in most businesses.

Also, you comment that a previous coworker got fired for disclosing similar information, so why would you repeat such situation?

Now, this is clearly some information you were not supposed to know, so technically there is no correct way of proceeding. However, given this information it would be wise to start looking for another job.


You found out your manager is trying to get you fired, so the only thing you should do is start looking for another job. The source of information being her private Facebook messages is irrelevant to what you do. From your perspective, the situation would be the same if you had found out through other means, such as eavesdropping on her phone call, or due to her wrongly forwarding you an email, etc.

Your gut instinct is correct, nothing good will come out of going to HR. Making decisions to fire people is more or less a part of a manager's job, so complaining to HR that you found out your manager is doing her job (by unauthorized access to her private Facebook messages, no less) will not only make you look silly, but also give them evidence to support their decision.


Well, you should never read personal messages of other people.

At this point, you can't go back in time and unread what you read. You should find another job somewhere less toxic where people are brilliant enough to share admin access instead of giving away direct access to their personal account.

I really don't blame you for looking at something readily available to you even if it is unethical.

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    Yeah I understand it was unethical but I've had problems with my manager for months now and i wanted to know what she's been saying. Thanks for the advice. – unknown unknown Aug 2 '17 at 17:24
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    @unknownunknown there should be no "but" in there. You should never ever look through someone personal messages, no matter what motivation you think you have. Having a personal reason for invading someone privacy does not absolve you in any way, nor does it somehow reduce the gravity of what you have done. Your logic is the same as in "I know is bad to hit women, but man, she was driving me nuts". – bolov Aug 3 '17 at 7:42

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