my coworkers keeps hacking into my Facebook and posting as me

A reader writes:

I’m in a weird situation. I work for a small company. Although I get along well with my coworkers, a few have a tendency to get on my Facebook and write a new status, like “hacked by Jane Doe.”

For example, I was at my desk, browsing Facebook during lunch. I went quickly to the bathroom. Upon my return, I saw I had five Facebook notifications. When I clicked on it, I saw that people were responding to a recent post on my wall, “hacked by Jane Doe” or “hacked by Joe Doe.” Some of the posts are things like “I love Jane Doe.” The first time this happened, I laughed, but then it proceeded to happen three times a week. Sometimes these guys do it to other coworkers. It’s becoming a nuisance.

I’ve talked to HR about this, but she told me that as long as they weren’t responding to my Facebook messages, they aren’t doing anything wrong.

Another note: One of the people who does this, Jane, is problematic and competitive. I was once working on a project and she asked if she could make one change. I said that was fine. Next thing I know, she took it to my boss and my boss gave her total credit for the project. I was angry. The last straw was when I caught Jane completing a project in which I was assigned to…ON MY COMPUTER. She responded that she did it because she saw I had a lot on my plate. Everything I did, she wanted to do and my boss would give her credit. My boss never gave me or my other coworkers credit when due.

I can’t talk to my boss about the problems because Jane and my boss are BFFs; they even share everything on Facebook and attend each other’s parties.

Just as of yesterday, Jane got onto my Facebook and wrote, “hacked by Jane Doe! Suckers!” I’m at loss about what to do. I met this week with the CEO and discussed of transferring to a new division in another city. And although I never mentioned the stuff I experienced, I am wondering if I should have.

I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked if she couldn’t just solve the problem by not signing into Facebook at work, or signing out before leaving her desk. She said:

I do. Sometimes it’s auto saved. So if someone uses my computer and put in Facebook, they’re automatically into my account. Regardless whether I sign in at work, I feel like they should stay away from my desk. Am I making a big deal out of this?

Well, kind of.

I mean, it’s not okay that they’re doing this, and it’s ridiculous that HR told you they weren’t doing anything wrong. They’re in the wrong, it’s juvenile, and it sounds like the joke (such as it was) has gotten old. Someone with authority should tell them to cut it out.

But apparently that’s not going to happen. I can’t tell you why your company doesn’t care that your coworkers are doing this, but they apparently don’t.

However, there are a few ways you could make this stop. You can stop using Facebook at work altogether (which presumably shouldn’t be a terrible hardship), and/or you could change your computer settings so that it’s not holding on to your account info when you sign out. (It sounds like it’s auto-saving it, but you can turn that off.)

So, as obnoxious as your coworkers’ behavior is, there’s a pretty easy way to stop it. I’m a fan of taking the easy, straightforward solution when one exists, even though it’s true that you shouldn’t have to.

The issue of your coworker doing your work and taking credit that belongs to you is a separate thing. There’s a third and fourth issue here too — that your boss doesn’t give credit appropriately, and that she’s crossing professional boundaries with a subordinate (which, no surprise, is causing problems in the office, like that you don’t feel she’d handle it fairly if you brought your concerns to her).

You can’t really do anything about the inappropriate friendship, but you can deal pretty directly with the rest of it: Tell Jane clearly that you want to do your own work and don’t want her help, tell her to cut it out if she tries to take over your projects again, and operate on an “if I give an inch, she’ll take a mile” basis with her — meaning that if she asks to make changes to your work in the future, say no even if you might ordinarily have said yes. And proactively keep your boss in the loop about your work, so that it’s harder for her to wrongly credit Jane for your stuff. (For example, send her a weekly update on your progress toward your biggest priorities or make a point of mentioning to her that the client praised your work on X.)

As for whether to raise any of this with the CEO, I wouldn’t. I don’t think there’s a way to raise this stuff without sounding a little bit petty; you’re right to be irritated by all of it, but it doesn’t really rise to CEO level.

{ 338 comments… read them below }

  1. The Cosmic Avenger

    Just from a geek’s point of view, you should always lock your computer and you should never have any accounts automatically sign you in or allow browsers to save your passwords. Just hold down the Windows key and press “L”, and you’ll have to enter your password again to unlock the computer.

    (I know it’s a pain remembering all your passwords. I highly recommend LastPass.)

    1. Rex

      Yes! Lock your computer, especially if you know that a hypercompetitive nasty coworker has a habit of going to your computer when you’re not there. You’re lucky posting crap to Facebook is all she’s doing.

        1. Matt

          I do this always, it’s second nature, I don’t even think about it … even when there is no one in the room with me and I’m going to lock the room anyway.

        1. M-C

          In fact, change all your passwords now. To strong ones.. Implement 2-factor authrntication, so that someone needs to have your phone in hand in order for the password to be changed. Seriously, you need to minimally educate yourself about security, or you will have a lot of trouble from these insane people.

          But that said, accessing your personal accounts at work is not good. Your computer, and its access to the net, belong to your employer. The fact that using them to access your personal stuff is tolerated should not be a given. And in this case it’s even held against you. Stop it before you have a major catastrophe on your hands.

      1. WorkingMom

        Yes, super simple solution here. Change your FB settings to not remember your login info, then quit FB and don’t ever open it again at work. You shouldn’t be on FB at work in general (unless you work in social media).

    2. Just another techie

      I know. I was cringing at the poor infosec hygeine all the way through this letter.

      1. Vicki

        At LastJob we had people who occasionally used other people’s accounts to send weird email as a reminder to lock the computer when you walk away from your desk.

        One message to “all” that says “I forgot to lock my computer” was usually sufficient.

      2. Dr. Johnny Fever

        I know one leader who, if she finds your computer unlocked while you are away, will send a quick resignation email on your behalf to a coworker. I don’t necessarily agree with the approach, but it’s onw way to enforce infosec.

        I had a coworker who never locked his computer. Took all my energy NOT to do screenshot of a lockout screen and put it on his computer as wallpaper, or even load a program that would give him fake BSODs resulting in frequest reboots. I mean, he did this for years, regardless of feedback.

        1. Anonicat

          A friend works at an IT place where, if a colleague notices you’ve left your computer unlocked, they send an email from it shouting the whole department to coffee. And they hold you to it. Generally this only happens once.

          Management also discourages clicking on links from non-official email addresses by periodically sending such emails with a link that results in a maximum volume rick-rolling while the close button moves randomly around the screen.

    3. Virginian

      Yes, I was just coming here to suggest this. If you’re sharing a computer with someone, it’s better to not stay signed into Facebook or any other personal account.

    4. LeisureSuitLarry

      My first thought on seeing this letter was “why the hell aren’t you locking your computer when you leave it?” It’s such a simple solution. Find a password you can remember but they can’t guess, set it to lock when it’s inactive for more than a few minutes or do the window+L thing when you walk away.

      1. Rachel B

        Yes, do both of these. The Start+L and setting it to lock up automatically after a few minutes in case you forget to do the Start +L thing (the Windows button says “Start” on my keyboard — don’t know if they’re all that way).

    5. Meg Murry

      Yes, I automatically Windows+L every time I stand up – it’s second nature to me. My coworkers laugh, because I do it even when I’m walking across the room to the printer, but it has been beat into me and it’s a habit I can’t break (and since I don’t think it’s a bad one I’m not trying that hard to break it).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I know! I grew up in NYC, and locking doors behind myself was a habit. I used to push the car lock button down as part of getting out of the car! Luckily it was also unthinkable for my butt to leave the seat with the keys in the ignition, so I never locked my keys in the car!

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

          I’ve locked my keys in the car more often than I care to admit because of the same habit. Including once, after an end-of-semester get together at a professor’s home. With the lights on. And the engine running. And the windshield wipers going. In the snow. (I’d gotten out of the car to clear the snow off my windshield). The professor had to drive me, with a couple of his kids in tow for propriety’s sake, to my apartment to get a spare key.

          At least the defroster cleared the snow for me by the time I got back, and it was nice and warm inside (did I mention I’d also left the heater on full blast?).

          1. Janorah

            > Did I also mention that I’d left the heater on full blast?

            You know you didn’t mention that.

          2. Cruciatus

            Same. Exact. Thing. Only at the mall. At Christmas. In a bad snowstorm. And cell phones weren’t a thing yet. My parents had to come get me the key from 20 minutes away. But I can say I’ve never done that again!

            1. ZuKeeper

              I did a similar thing when I was 18. I had just gotten a summer job in another state. After driving 12 hours, (the last hour of which was winding mountain roads in a rainstorm) I was really tired. I had just about everything I owned in my car. I stopped in front of the bunkhouses and got out to introduce myself to my new bosses and the few other co-workers that had arrived. Yeah, I locked my keys in the car, with it running. Great first impression!

              Luckily, the main camp had a maintenance department that was able to send someone down with a slim jim to open the door before too long and everyone just thought it was funny and told me to go take a nap!

              I wish I could say I’ve never locked my keys in the car since, but I have. Many years later, I took my 5 year old daughter to a birthday party and decided to go get groceries while she was there. The moment I closed the car door I knew what I’d done. I had to call my husband’s boss and ask him to get a message to him (no cell signal in the mountains at that time). My husband then had to leave work, drive the hour down that same windy mountain road (I never left after that summer, haha) and unlock my car for me so I could go get our daughter. That time I learned my lesson *knock wood*

          3. Fact & Fiction

            I solved the problem of locking keys in the car by only locking the door after I’m out using the bottom on my key. So awesome knowing I will never again have to pay a locksmith outrageous sums or pray I can do the hanger unlocking trick if I’m lucky enough to find one (not that this would work on the car I have now but did work on my little Neon in the early 2000s).

          4. nonegiven

            My car won’t lock with the engine running and nobody in the car. It’s an older car so I’m not sure how it knows. I tried to warm it up, using my extra key, while I was getting ready to leave. I’d get out of the car lock the door and shut it, the locks would open themselves.
            I can lock my keys in the car as long as the engine isn’t running.

      2. Kiryn

        When I started my last job, anybody who left their computer unlocked could expect to come back to hack posts on their facebook or their desktop wallpaper being changed to photos of the latest boy band. Little pranks like that.

        It never happened to me personally, because I learned from their mistakes and just got in the habit of locking my computer EVERY time I got up from my desk. I wouldn’t dream of leaving my computer unlocked and unattended at work. I will never trust my coworkers.

        1. Sarah

          Yeah, I worked in an office where if you left your computer unattended an embarrassing email would be sent out to somebody in the team/friendgroup. I made the mistake once and they sent an email to a coworker I hadn’t met yet about how handsome I thought he was and how excited I was to be sitting next to him. I started locking it if I was walking halfway across the room or even just turning my back to have a conversation with somebody while still sitting at my desk.

          1. Girasol

            That’s tradition where I work: embarrassing mail to the person’s team and manager if a PC is found unlocked. When a coworker left his laptop in a conference room in haste to answer his wife’s call that his son had just gone to the ER, someone sent a message on his email announcing to boss and coworkers that he was a transvestite. Although hacking can be an effective way to assure that people remember to lock PCs, it makes a workplace culture seem juvenile and unprofessional.

            1. Sarah

              Well, I won’t deny that the group I worked with was juvenile sometimes, but I will say I think there is a difference when it’s done solely within a team/group of friends than when it involves managers or people who aren’t in on the joke. Were we sometimes juvenile? Sure. Did anybody outside our group know? Nope. We worked together, played sports together, drank together, and were friends with everybody’s partners – the occassional email to friends saying something ridiculous wasn’t a big deal for us.

              1. Fact & Fiction

                Well I think the problem with that in the workplace is sometimes someone might genuinely feel bothered by a prank that goes too far yet feel uncomfortable expressing that for fear of falling into disfavor with the group. It can be kind of a slippery slope assuming that of course nobody else minds we’re all buddies right? Not saying that’s the case in your situation but it is something to consider in general.

            2. martini

              Our office tradition is an email to your co-workers telling them that you’ll be bringing in timbits the next morning, which gets the “lock your computer!” point across, but in a pretty low-stakes way.

            3. Jen

              I hate to be “that person”, but since I’ve got a couple really close trans friends (and yes, I know that transvestite and transgender are different), it’s made me much more aware of stuff like this, and it’d be remiss of me to not point out that sending out an email announcing someone as a transvestite shouldn’t be a joke. And I totally understand that you’re just the poster of what someone else did so I know you yourself aren’t saying this, but…well, I wanted to put it out there.

              Plus, as a smart@ss, I find this lazy humor to be greatly offensive, lol. I mean jeez, at least change the guy’s JIRA profile pic to a My Little Pony or something, or send out an email with an outlook invite to the team inviting them to the local bar and “drinks on me!” that is incredibly similar to what we legitimately send out sometimes. Step it up, people. Don’t half @ss your pranks.

              1. Noobtastic

                My favorite “lock your computer” prank that ever heard (A friend told me this one, and I wish I had the guts to do it, but I never did.):

                1) Take a screenshot of the desktop and save the picture as a .bmp (or is it .jpg?)
                2) Open “My Documents” and start a new folder. If you’re kind, you’ll call it “Desktop Shortcuts,” but you could call it anything you want, really, including something that looks like a project name (My friend is too sneaky for the obvious name).
                3) Move ALL the shortcuts, files, folders, etc. (with the exception of the recycle bin) into this new folder.
                4) Close Explorer and change the desktop background to the picture you took of the desktop, with all the shortcuts and stuff still on it.
                5) Sit back and laugh as the person clicks and clicks and clicks and clicks, and can’t get ANYTHING on their desktop to open!

                The best part about this is that it annoys them, but it actually causes no harm, whatsoever, not even embarrassing them to their team-mates. And it’s totally PC.

                At my last job, the IT department sent out an email, telling everyone that they should lock their computers every time they left their desk, or if someone came up and stood behind them, where they could see their screen (those screen covers work from most angles, but not directly behind the person), or if they were turning around to talk to someone. Just get in the habit of locking the computer when not actively using it, they said. It’s good information security. And practice your password so it flows so quickly that it’s no big deal to type it fifty times a day, if necessary, and no one will guess it just from watching you type it out.

                Apparently, I was the only one who took the instruction, because I began doing just that. After a year or so of this, it was such complete habit, I found myself “locking” my computer at home (which was in my bedroom, and didn’t have a password set, because there wasn’t anyone going to hack it). Working as an admin in an open office, and with the communal pen supply stored in my filing cabinet, people were in and out of my area a lot, so if someone came for some pens, I’d lock my computer, until they were gone. I was dealing with personnel files, y’all! My boss had told me, more than once, that discretion was vital!

                Fast forward another year. Habit so ingrained, I probably “locked my computer” in my sleep. My old boss retired, and I got a new boss. In my first performance review, he expressed concern that I locked my computer every time someone came up behind me, or when I left my desk. He said, “It makes you look like you’re UP to something.” Complete with waggling eyebrows at the “UP.”

                Did I mention I was the only one in the whole department that followed the instructions in IT’s email? Neither my old boss nor my new boss did it. I know they both got the email, though. They just ignored it, as did everybody else.

                1. Noobtastic

                  I should have told him the story of why I take infosec seriously.

                  My Dad worked in R&D in a small company, and he invented some cool things. One day, his boss took away a prototype he had just completed, to show it to his friend and brag about it.

                  The “friend” asked to borrow the prototype, and boss-man said, “Sure!”

                  Not three weeks later, my Dad was watching the news, and saw his prototype on air! The newscaster was USING IT. It wasn’t even a new model. It was the actual prototype. Complete with duct tape, apparently.

                  He alerted the boss, and found out that the “friend” had already applied for the patent.

                  My dad was serious about infosec, and helped to drill that “Lock your computer” into me. The IT email showed me the shortcut (Windows + L). Before that, I would have to go to the Start menu and select “lock” from there, so I liked the keyboard shortcut much better, and was grateful to IT for teaching it to us. Saved me lots of time. And since it was easier, I locked the computer much more often (such as when someone walked up behind me), instead of only when I left my desk.

                  And I’m amazed that in all the years I’d have to stop and use the Start menu to lock my computer before going to the restroom, nobody waggled their eyebrows at me, and asked if I was “UP to something.”

                2. Noobtastic

                  Finally, 20+ years ago, at my first job, when I actually WAS “UP to something,” I had a totally different trick for it.

                  I didn’t make my screen black. Nope. I had a macro installed so that if the boss came around, I hit my little keyboard shortcut, and work showed up on my computer, even though one second before, I had been playing a game! He could stare right at the screen and see that I was working on a (regularly re-occurring) project, of which he heartily approved.

                  He might say, “Drop that for now. I have something more urgent for you to work on.” But he’d never guess I had been playing a game, instead.

                  I was not always an ethical worker, I’m afraid.

        2. AnotherFed

          This – we’re supposed to lock the computer no matter what (and can get written up if we fail to), so instead of ‘gentle reminders,’ coworkers will usually leave a surprise like changing all the windows notification sounds to farting noises, setting a Microsoft Office autocorrect/autoreplace to spell the person’s own name wrong automatically, or a silly email message sent from the unlocked account.

        3. Chani

          haha, boy bands, so tame… at my first college, you could end up with frigging *goatse* as your desktop wallpaper if you didn’t lock down the bootloader, bios, everything… >.<

            1. BeenThere

              Working goatse analogs into our computer security presentations was considered a badge of honor.

        4. Joline

          Yup. We did this at my old accounting public practice job (switch mouse buttons or sen and admiring e-mail to a partner) to new staff when they didn’t lock their computers. Goti t trained into them before they started going out to clients where there are bigger confidentiality issues if you leave your computer unlocked. I hear it’s pretty common in public practice.

      3. SophiaB

        I’m the same – I’ll lock my laptop even when I’m alone in the flat and want to grab a glass of water. It’s just muscle memory now.

        We’ve got some pretty strict data security / clear desk policies at my job, so it’s drilled into us to lock screens and flip any documentation blank-side-up if we walk away from the desk. If we catch people with their screens unlocked, we send emails from their accounts and generally cause mischief. So long as it doesn’t get personal, it’s very much accepted and it’s a good reminder for people to lock their screens. I’m not sure we’d do it to people’s facebook accounts at work, though.

      4. ScarletInTheLibrary

        I formed this habit while working with the public. It takes two seconds to lock it and protects your stuff.

    6. Stranger than fiction

      Yes and clear your browsers cache and delete all auto fill and auto saved passwords. Actually, where I work were required to lock our computers when we go on break.

      1. Janorah

        These are good. And it’s good to know that Chrome or Firefox will happily reveal stored passwords if requested to do so.

        This means that OPs coworker doesn’t need to rely on stored credentials in the browser: Jane could have revealed the stored password for OP’s Facebook account (or bank account, or any other site with stored credentials), and could just continue using that password to sign in as OP.

        Be secure:
        1. Clear stored passwords
        2. Change passwords with any site that you had stored
        3. Use privacy mode for connecting to Facebook, your bank, etc. at work, then close the privacy window when you’re done.

        1. Adam V

          Chrome now requires your password before it’ll show you any stored passwords, so that’s good.

    7. BRR

      Yeah, I realize I’m completely putting this on the victim but just lock your computer. You’re lucky it’s just Facebook. Even if you don’t lock your computer, the task of signing out of Facebook is hardly tedious.

      And really my sympathy isn’t too great for somebody complaining a coworker is posting on their Facebook at work (especially if it’s happened often enough to go to HR about it, which isn’t really what HR is for. Also I’m not entirely sure what HR’s position was but it sounds dumb). This is so easily solvable.

      I’m curious too about the reason why you discussed transferring. Is it just FB, is it taking credit, is it Jane being BFFs with your boss? FB is super easy to fix. Taking credit for your work is doable but will take some more effort.

      I also don’t approve of the word hack in this letter. Let’s skip further semantics on this because I looked it up and it says unauthorized access (which this is), but this is just leaving your computer open.

      1. Janorah

        > if it’s happened often enough to go to HR about it, which isn’t really what HR is for

        Many companies have a dual set of rules around computer usage:
        1. Don’t do Facebook and other faffing off stuff at work
        2. No unauthorized access to systems.

        Clearly OP is breaking the first half of that, and Jane is breaking the second half.

      2. Stone Satellite

        +1 on not using “hack”. That’s like saying someone broke into your house when you left the door wide open.

    8. Retail Lifer

      I hate having to do this, but I have to at work as well. There’s one guy that will go through our emails, and HR only pretends to care. For some reason, I think I would be even more upset if he did something on my Facebook page, though.

      1. Inky

        Wait, WHY does nosy guy go through other’s emails? On other folks computers?? Under the vague guise of being IT maybe?

    9. Verde

      This is something that we drill into all staff. If you leave your desk, lock your computer. End of story. Also, just closing your browser is not the same as actually signing out of FB.

    10. myswtghst

      Completely agreed! Our office has a history of practical jokes (changing your desktop image / screensaver, IMing coworkers inappropriate things, flipping screens, etc…) on unlocked computers, so like Meg Murry, I can’t remember the last time I walked further than the printer (next to my desk) without locking my computer. I even do it while working from home sometimes, just out of habit (although it is probably still a good idea since, y’know, cats).

    11. LQ

      LOCK IT LOCK IT LOCK IT! Why on earth aren’t you locking your computer?

      Everytime I hear stuff like this I cringe. Lock your computer.

      Yes your coworkers are jerks but there are 1903741908752 other reasons to lock your computer. It’s so easy.

      Yes they should stay away from your desk. But I’ll bet they think this is a “game” and that you’re enjoying playing, otherwise why would you leave your computer unlocked? (They are the same kinds of people who move everything on your desk 5 inches to the left or something.)

      1. Janorah

        > there are 1903741908752 other reasons to lock your computer

        Please enumerate some small subset of that number: just a few hundred should suffice.

    12. Anoning it Up

      This became my husband’s habit, even at home, when his workplace pranksters started putting unsavory desktop backgrounds on your computer if you walked away for long enough without locking it (think two girls one cup kind of stuff. Don’t google that at work though.) His company kind of works with the unsavory stuff, so having it open wasn’t a fire-able offense or anything, but you still don’t want that kind of thing on your computer when you just open the lid. Suprise! And so everyone in his office learned to lock their computer.

      I was actually just talking today about how this is useless in my company – we’re all set up to have the same password and we’re not allowed to change them. It is… bad.

      1. Nashira

        Your office having a single password made me make a sound of dismay best approximated as “glerk”. So bad. So so so bad.

      2. Fact & Fiction

        We can’t put passwords on out computer or change our voicemail pins where I work now, so ppl can cover when you’re out more easily. The lack of security kills the former legal professional inside me a little.

    13. Sales Geek

      Yes, this. It’s mandatory where I work and our computers will automatically lock after 15 minutes of idle time. All of this is easy to set up.

      As an aside and just to drive “Jane” crazy, get a screen shot of your desktop and use it as the image on your computer’s locked screen. I’ve seen this done as a joke on a coworker’s laptop…”someone” changed the computer’s lockup password and changed the lock screen to a screen grab of the user’s desktop. But doing that would be wrong…

      1. dawbs

        It’s less nice to be on someone’s unlocked computer and make the screen grab be the desktop wall paper and hide all the icons and taskbars…but rather hilarious.

        Making an error pop up screen grab as the locked screen is also hilarious, especially if your screen goes to black/saver and they touch the omouse and they think they made errors pop up.
        (but I don’t recommend making it the blue screen of death. It causes to much panic)

      2. Dweali

        I like the take a picture of your desktop, set it to your background, and hide all files trick :-)

        1. Noobtastic

          Aw, man! I wish I had read all the comments before posting.

          Also, I thought my friend was a genius for coming up with that prank, but now I think maybe she heard it from someone else?

          Still, I gotta admire her guts for actually doing it.

    14. T3k

      I’d go one further and suggest changing her Facebook password. If the coworker is just the least bit savvy, she could easily find your saved password in the browser settings and log in elsewhere (doubt she’d go that far, but better be safe than sorry).

    15. W.

      Wouldn’t say that’s just a geek’s perspective – you should definitely lock your computer when you leave, just to protect confidential information – or in this case people acting like kids.
      Not sure I understand the password part. If she’s locked her screen to access to her account they shouldn’t be able to get to her web settings including passwords?
      I’d assume that would solve the whole (Facebook) issue? – as long as her locked screen is via password not just ctrl alt delete.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I was trying to say that they shouldn’t have their browser automatically log them in to Facebook, they should be using a complex password that’s different from all of their other passwords, and logging in anew every day. LastPass can generate complex passwords for websites and remember them for you, and you can set it to require you to re-enter your master password before it will fill in a website password.

    16. Bunny

      At my work, it’s actually a requirement that all staff lock their computers when they step away from their desks.

      And the culture is that, if someone fails to lock their computer, they are fair game for mild pranks such as changing backgrounds and screen-savers, specifically to encourage people to LOCK THEIR BLOODY COMPUTERS.

      1. One of the Sarahs

        Changing the colours to neon, eg…. I did this when I was 21, and my best friend used to leave her computer in the office unlocked all the time…

      2. Moksha Maginifique

        The best thing to do is this: Take a screen shot of their desktop. Then delete all the icons off their desktop and set the SS as the desktop picture, making sure to set it to fill in all the screen real estate. Then just sit back and watch them foam at the mouth when the click-thingy doesn’t work. :)

    17. Ad Astra

      In this guy’s defense, no one had ever asked me to lock my work computer when stepping away until I moved into an industry where we deal with sensitive data. And, to be honest, I thought it was kind of an annoying imposition at the time. I don’t think this is common knowledge or standard practice for many industries. Still a good idea, though.

      1. Chinook

        “In this guy’s defense, no one had ever asked me to lock my work computer when stepping away until I moved into an industry where we deal with sensitive data. ”

        Then I will add the following PSA – not only should locking a computer when you walk away from it be 2nd nature, it is doubly important to do it when the fire alarm goes off and you have to evacuate the building. A know trick is to pull the alarm and then have free access to the network on an empty floor full of unlocked computers.

        1. One of the Sarahs

          Yes, I was coming here to say the exact same thing re fire alarms – lock up your stuff, lock your computer

          1. JessaB

            Good IT would have a timer on this anyway, step away for more than x time and it locks on you.

      2. AnotherOneGoes

        Never having been told to lock the computer only explains the first (and MAYBE the second) time this happened. After that, the OP should have figured out that relatively simple solution on his own.

    18. MashaKasha

      YES! *1000 times this. Every job I’ve worked in the last fifteen years, we were always always required to lock our computers any time we walk away from our desks even for a minute. If it’s not HIPAA-sensitive information, it’s some other kind of sensitive or proprietary information that can be accessed through our computers. It’s a reflex with me now to automatically lock it up every time I walk away.

      Also, I don’t leave anything on auto-load, at work or at home, for same reasons. Even though I have a great relationship with my grown kids, I don’t need to see their Facebook and email and they don’t need to see mine.

    19. Cynthia

      People pull pranks on people at my company if they leave their computer unlocked because it’s a security risk. (They did it at my last company too.)

      For this reason, I lock my computer at work even when just going to the bathroom even though I work in a secured room with limited access. I also do not login to Facebook or any other website that I wouldn’t want people to see what I post. Because IT can log everything you view on your computer…in detail.

      I also don’t use the company wifi on my phone for the same reason which was very beneficial to me recently when IT cracked down on people using the company wifi on their personal phone. (The wifi isn’t intended for non-company use.)

  2. Technical Editor

    Does no one know how to lock their computers anymore? This sounds like it might be in a retail or open office space where the computers are not officially signed, but you go to the same one every day. You should still be able to lock it when you step away. Barring that, use your phone for Facebook instead.

    Ridiculous.

    1. INFJ

      I’m guessing there is a shared “break room” computer that employees take turns on, and by staying logged in while stepping away, OP is “claiming” the computer during break so nobody else will start using it.

      The “hacking” could very well be coworkers’ response to OP “hogging” the break computer.

      I agree with you about using the phone for this!

      1. Janorah

        > break room shared computer

        Why invent this story? There’s nothing in the OP’s email to suggest this. She clearly states it is her PC that this is happening to, which is a clue against the PC being a shared and contentious resource.

        1. One of the Sarahs

          +1, and why on earth would you a) let an imaginary shared break room computer remember your password and b) be surfing on anything other than a private browsing session that you clear when you’re done?

        2. Tara

          I agree. Its weird to assume that its a break room computer, especially since OP mentioned that she does work on this computer that Jane is taking credit for and using her computer to do it sometimes.

  3. MT

    Luckily this is all that they are doing. We have had people jump on other people’s unlocked computer and send out mass emails company wide.

    1. AndersonDarling

      One of our VPs will use your workstation to send love letters to co-workers if he catches your computer unlocked. I thought about writing AAM about that one, but I knew the response is “lock your computer.”

      1. MT

        on our email, if you type in the name of hte company, its the company wide distribution list. i’ve seen several people fired for emails sent from their comp.

        1. Not So NewReader

          It must be that someone else did it or the email was nasty. I can’t really figure out why sending 1 email to all would get a person fired, what if it was just an honest mistake?

          1. Janorah

            I’ve seen it happen – someone emailed a video of their, um, “personal and highly risqué weekend activities with an assortment of other individuals” to the entire company

            Knowingly.

            Dude was looking to get fired, clearly. But yes. Weird stuff happens.

      2. myswtghst

        I’ve had coworkers (not VPs, thankfully) do stuff like this in the past – using the internal IM to confess undying love / ask coworkers out. It was funny-ish when I was just out of college and we were all in a call center, not so cute years later.

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      I worked in a gossipy environment for a while and when I learned (as the accountant/HR person) that the manager over the service staff required them not to change their email password from the default password so he could check their email, I flipped my lid. I explained to this manager that he had administrator access to their email through Outlook and illustrated that given the nature of their gossip, they’re as likely to dislike each other as they are the people about which they talk, and if Cersei Lannister decides to log into Tyrion Lannister’s email account and send a VIP customer a nasty-gram, Tyrion has absolutely no recourse to prove it wasn’t him. The manager seemed unconcerned, but the company had recently been sold to another company and he was looking to bail (as was I).

  4. VictoriaHR

    windows key + L every time you get up from your desk. Lock your computer down and require a password to get in. If Jane asks you why, say that you didn’t want anyone accessing your computer when you aren’t there. Problem solved.

  5. KT

    Yeah, I don’t know how you raise this with anyone else without the automatic response being “stop using your Facebook at work”.

    Either stop checking Facebook while working, or just use your phone if you need a brain break. That seems pretty cut and dry, and as long as you aren’t the social media manager for your company, that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

    The credit aspect is more important/troubling. I like Alison’s recommendation of email updates, and simply not giving Jane any room to take credit in the first place.

    What I also have done, when I found out a coworker was trying to take credit, is send my boss a note actually praising coworker, i.e. {Dear Boss, Just wanted to give you an update on the Teapot project. I delivered it to the client and he’s really pleased; he loved my design and that it was delivered ahead of schedule. I also wanted to give a shout out to Jane, who proofread the piece before I sent off the final for printing–it was a help to have a fresh set of eyes take a last look.”

    That way I’m being a team player and thanking them for their contributions, but clearly outlining what I did versus what they actually did.

  6. GigglyPuff

    You say it’s a small company, do you get user specific computer log-in’s? If you do, LOCK YOUR COMPUTER, when you leave, even for the bathroom. All you have to press is Windows+L (if you’re using Windows).

    Like Alison said, if you are able, save your preferences in your browser not to auto save log-in info, even usernames.

    Stop checking FB on your computer, if you have a smartphone use that. Even if you don’t like the FB app, you can just use the browser on your phone, and if you leave that window open in your phone browser you don’t have to log-on every time you refresh the FB page.

      1. Revanche

        And *password protect your phone*.
        I about passed out when I saw a good friend didn’t have a passcode or any kind of lock on his phone.

        1. T3k

          Ugh, I can’t stand the phones that people “lock” and it’s just “swipe” function. I made sure on the first day my mom got herself a smart phone that she actually used a password to lock that thing.

      2. BRR

        My mom of all people was the one who convinced me to password protect my phone (this was several years ago). In case it’s lost or stolen you want to prevent access. Usually email isn’t locked.

    1. Cucumberzucchini

      True story, I never had a need for a passcode on my phone. I never felt the need to lock my computer. I trusted my staff and we didn’t have problems with pranking.

      However we had a change in leadership that empowered one of the owner’s wife and she was a major snoop. I called my staff into a quick meeting and told them all to put passwords on their computers, to lock their screens even if they’re just stepping away to use the restroom and to put locks on their phones too if they didn’t have one.

      I put a lock on my phone for the first time and even turned off text preview because the concern for snooping was so bad. This wife was the type that didn’t want the staff to have any not-working time. I didn’t care what Facebooking was going on, as long as the work was getting done (which it was). But she was the type that if she saw them taking 5 minutes to do something unrelated she’d lose her mind.

      I also think she (prior to me switching to the new mo) went into my browsing history. As a high-performer, workaholic, put in 60+ hours a week – was super annoyed about this. There were no other suspects but her.

      There were also cameras all over the place. Just another reason to be glad to not be there anymore.

    2. Chinook

      “You say it’s a small company, do you get user specific computer log-in’s?”

      I have told the story about being the only person in a company who didn’t have a user specific log-in (as I was the receptionist and people need to access my programs when they covered for my breaks). It took one of my reliefs complaining to my boss about the email she found (buried) that complained about her snooping and disrespect for me (she didn’t see the irony). I quit on the spot when confronted and they only got me to stay by promising me an upgraded computer (from XP to Windows 7) that allowed for multiple users to sign in as well as a non-person specific email address for reception (which took finagling head office for). (and yes, I was the great a receptionist that they did this for me, thank you very much). It was the only way I could go to work and not be paranoid about what was being done in my name when I was going to the bathroom.

  7. IrishGirl

    Did anyone else read this as though the LW wasn’t logging out of facebook and instead just leaving it open on her desk when she went for a break?

      1. John

        I think that’s right. And while what the co-workers are doing is wrong, it wouldn’t be happening if not for her doing personal things on work time…at least that’s what I think they are conveying.

        1. Red Rose

          In fairness, though, OP says “I was at my desk, browsing Facebook during LUNCH” (caps for emphasis). I don’t even have a facebook account and if I did, I wouldn’t use it at work, but at least she wasn’t doing it on work time.

      2. Smelly Pirate Hooker

        I’d buy it, but that’s such a passive-aggressive way of dealing with it. It could also be OP’s coworkers are trying to “teach them a lesson” about leaving Facebook up like that.

    1. IrishGirl

      If it is being left unattended, although the coworkers are being quite childish, I don’t think the word hacking is justified.

        1. LeisureSuitLarry

          no one right word, but the phrase for what the co-worker is doing probably boils down to “being an ass.”

        2. Meg Murry

          It’s more like pranking than hacking, if she’s leaving it open. If she said they had installed a keystroke logger, or started trying every combo of her pets name plus her birthday plus her name backwards, I’d consider that hacking.

          Your co-workers are sending you a message. Stop leaving your computer open, and be glad the only thing they are messing with is Facebook. Other places I’ve worked, the prank for walking away from an unlocked computer was an email message to the whole company from your account that basically said “I’m an idiot and don’t understand the first thing about computer security” in funnier terms.

          1. Just another techie

            In previous workplaces I have sent those messages. We had these shared stand-up workstations meant for super fast tasks so you didn’t have to walk back to your office, which could be as far as half a mile away. The quickstations had a timer that would nag you to log off after ten minutes. Some people would disable the nag program, but you had to re-enable it to be able to log off. So if someone forgot to re-enable bugme, and tried to log out, the screen would go blank, but they’d still be logged in. The next person to use the quickstation could then right click to open a terminal, and they’d have access to the previous user’s account. Every time I found the quickstation in that state I’d send out a team-wide email saying “Just a reminder, you have to re-enable bugme in order to log out properly. If you don’t, someone else can use your credentials to do anything they want, like sending a company wide message like ‘I’ just did :D ” and then I’d log the poor fool out.

            1. INFJ

              I love this. At LastJob, the system allowed you to send emails to yourself (not like Outlook at all, think DOS). If I found someone still logged in, I would send them a one-word email to themselves: “Hi”

              Other people would be much more mischievous, like send an email to the boss that said “I need to see you when you have a moment,” so the boss would go to that person and say, “What do you need?” And that person would have no clue what boss was talking about…

          2. Kyrielle

            At one previous job, the prank would be changing your wallpaper. The new one would be custom-chosen to irk the recipient. (Nothing outside of company guidelines, though – so nothing x-rated or the like. But, say, the ex-firefighter with a macho-guy attitude might end up with the Powerpuff Girls. And if I’d left mine unlocked, I’m pretty sure I’d’ve gotten Barney or something – or maybe something with zombies if our horror movie buff had spotted it.)

            1. Meg Murry

              I’ve seen this done too. My favorite is when they take a screenshot of the desktop, then get rid of all the icons and replace the wallpaper with the screenshot. Then stand back and laugh when none of the icons do anything when clicked on.

              The other one was changing the screen saver to the one that was text, and having it say something like “Jane Doe rules!” or “Jane Doe was here!” or “I don’t know how to lock my computer before walking away”

              1. Bob, short for Kate

                A favourite at the last office I was at was rotating the screen. Everything still works but you’ve got to crick your neck while you restore your settings.

                1. Short and Stout

                  An ex colleague of mine once made a coworker’s mouse speed get progressively faster over the course of a week or so. That was very funny.

            2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              Yeah, there were lots of glittery unicorn wallpapers at one job because of this. Or, once, when the victim wasn’t going to be there for a while, the prankster took a screenshot of the victim’s desktop, deleted all her icons, and then set the screenshot as the wallpaper. Took the victim a while to figure out why her shortcuts weren’t working.

            3. Liza

              There is also a key combination on most Windows computers to turn the screen upside-down. I may possibly have learned this from an IT manager who may possibly have done this on computers that were found unlocked…

          3. themmases

            Yep, this is common in some workplaces as an effective but harmless message that you need to not leave your computer unlocked/be on Facebook/whatever.

            Although, it’s not really clear from the letter that Jane is in a position re. the OP that it’s appropriate for her to “send a message” rather than just giving a friendly reminder. And most people who are making a point about an important security practice (rather than just being mean) would actually say something after the second or third time. “Percival, I know we joke around about this but we really are all supposed to be locking our computers when we walk away because of our VIP clients/access to health information/financial responsibilities/etc.” The fact that Jane just keeps doing this without saying anything makes her seem irresponsible, and mean.

        3. Elizabeth West

          I’ve seen it as hacked on Facebook when someone else posts from your account, for example, if you walk away and leave it logged in (!!!). A crazy post will appear and then the person whose account it is comments below, “My sister hacked my facebook!”

          1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

            hacked is the colloquial (I guess?) term for it, but in terms of what hacking actually is then yeah, that’s not this.

        4. BritCred

          Its more known as a “Frape” or “Fraping” which I really don’t like.

          Btw, if OP can’t have a secure logon then change the facebook password and don’t use it on the work computer and they will get error messages if they try to log in. If they go to the extreme to actually reset the password by logging into your email etc… then that is far beyond joke level.

          1. IrishGirl

            This is how I’ve heard people refer to it, although I agree that it’s not a great phrase

        5. BritCred

          I think my comment got eaten by the filter due to the phrase used for this having a bad word in it… I won’t repeat it in case but there is a appropriate phrase even if I don’t like it due to the bad word in it.

          Incase it didn’t… the other half of my post was suggesting OP change the password on facebook and stop using it on the work PC so they can’t log into it without going a lot further to do so!

        6. Millennial

          As far as the federal government is concerned, unauthorized use is hacking. They don’t make much of a distinction. And maybe she would do well to inform her coworker that unauthorized use is a crime. A federal crime.

          I’m just saying that to be scary.

          The thing I’m surprised hasn’t come up is this is serious boundary crossing. Let’s take Facebook out of it. (I think people view Facebook as frivolous and that shades why there is so much “Just log out” as a response.)

          What if she was digging through her purse? Or opening up her date book every day and flipping through it and leaving notes “Jane was here”? What if she was taking all of her phone message slips (back when people regularly got phone messages) and reading them and leaving her notes? What she was rerecording her voicemail message?

          I think “log out of facebook” misses that this coworker is crossing a line. And kind of make it seem like it’s LW’s problem and not Jane’s.

          This seems like a troubled office. And I think leaving would be a good idea.

          1. Cordelia Naismith

            The coworker is crossing a line, but the OP can’t force the coworker to stop crossing it. She can ask, but if coirker refuses to listen, what else can she do? Logging out of Facebook is a practical thing she can do to stop it.

            If the coirker had been going through her purse, I think you’d be seeing a lot of similar “put your purse in a drawer that locks” responses — something practical that will solve the problem if talking fails.

            1. HB

              Yeah, I see this as OP’s problem, not Jane’s as clearly the company doesn’t care what Jane is doing and 1) OP had to go to management complaining about using FB at work (even during lunch, I’d find this an awkward conversation and 2) OP can easily solve the problem by logging out/clearing cookies/locking her computer.

          2. Another HRPro

            While this is still wrong, I don’t think it is to the same level as going on someone’s facebook page as that is company property while your purse and address book are private property.

        7. Revanche

          I think hijacking might be more appropriate. They didn’t go to any real trouble to break into the account because it was already on / logged in, they just took unauthorized control over it.

          1. Shan

            I think this one is the best term because it’s most accurate. Much better than some of the questionable terms people are using.

        8. mskyle

          In my circle it is know as “hamming,” because traditionally (i.e. from ~2011-2013) we used it to post things about how much “we” loved ham and other meats (who knows why!). Sadly, now that fingerprint locks are in common use on our phones, we no longer get to ham each other.

        9. FD

          This is commonly referred to colloquially as hacking. It’s not technically right, but the word is being used widely enough that it’s not confusing here.

          1. Marcela

            The problem I have with hacking is that it gives people some sense of inevitability, of something that cannot be stopped because it relies on some deep understanding of computers out of reach for normal people, instead of being something easily avoided with basic rules of “computational hygiene”.

        10. Daisy

          The word used to be ‘fraping’ (ugh). Back when this was still a funny novelty. In like 2006.

    2. Sadsack

      I think she isn’t logging out if FB, just closing the web browser. So the next person to open FB is opening right up until OP’s account. Logging out of FB each time would solve this.

    3. ella

      We have shared computers at work, and several of my coworkers seem to think that “closing the browser” and “logging out” are synonymous. Once upon a time that was true, but not anymore. I did post a status on one coworker’s facebook (“George does not always remember to log out of things”) just to covertly bring the issue to his attention and it hasn’t happened since.

  8. 2horseygirls

    CONTROL +ALT+DELETE will lock your computer so you have to enter your user ID and password. Even if Jane logs in, it should pull up her user profile and network access, not yours. If someone asks why you’re all of a sudden locking your computer when you leave your desk for ANYTHING, simply laugh it off as “Oh, just read an article about online security, so I’m making it my new habit for the month.” That doesn’t point fingers at anyone specifically.

    1. Kat

      I’d just be blunt if any of them asked why I was locking it.

      “Because you are immature douche nozzles”

    2. Elysian

      I can’t even imagine people in the OP’s workplace would be surprised if a coworker learned to lock the computer. I would be shocked if anyone even asked “why are you doing that?”

    3. Eliza Jane

      I just want to throw out there: CTRL+ALT+DELETE does NOT always lock your computer. It takes you to a control screen, but on my Windows 7 machine, you aren’t required to enter your password before returning. Windows+L is the shortcut that will lock you.

      1. DMented Kitty

        CTRL+ALT+DEL takes you to the “Lock My Computer”/”Task Manager”/”Log Off”/”Change your password” options. “Lock My Computer” is the first option, so technically if you use CTRL+ALT+DEL you’ll have to press Enter as well.

        Windows key + L is the real shortcut to locking the computer, I’ve just learned that fairly recently, but I used to do CTRL+ALT+DEL+Enter.

  9. Squirrel

    Let’s not jump on the OP for using Facebook at work–clearly it’s acceptable so we don’t need to pile on them about it. But OP really, “fool me once…” and all that. Stop logging into Facebook on a platform that allows your co-workers equal access to it. Figure out the security settings and change your browser so it doesn’t auto-save. Lock your computer when you get up from your desk, even if it’s just for 30 seconds to grab something off of the printer, every. single. time. Don’t give the village idiots any chance of access for any reason. And then hurry and get the hell out of there, because it sounds like a juvenile, crummy place to work. All the Facebook issues aside, you being undermined and not receiving credit is unacceptable.

    1. Sadsack

      Yeah, not getting credit makes me wonder, doesn’t the manager know who is working on what and why is OP working on something that manager doesn’t know about? Be more vocal with your manager about what you are working on and your progress. Tell your manager when you have an idea for a project before you do it. This way she knows what you are working on. When Jane steals your thunder, your manager can say, but I thought OP was working on that. Granted, if your manager really is terrible, none if this may matter, but you sometimes have to be proactive in getting recognition for your work anyway.

      1. AcidMeFlux

        And from now on leave an email trail on projects, like, confirmation/goals of project, date due, etc. A few mails, very short and sweet, to confirm that it started and in the works. And frankly, I would have mailed Jane to very sweetly, professionally, ask WTF why did you turn in my project?

    2. Dynamic Beige

      And change your password right now. Do it at home and then don’t log in at work. Seriously, you are obviously allowed to browse Facebook at work, but is it really 100% necessary? Do it on your phone if you must, as I doubt your co-irker has access to that or any plausible reason she and her friend the Manager can cook up.

      Depending on the office, you may be required to give your computer password to someone — IT? The manager? — so that when you’re out people have access to your projects if there isn’t some system in place that automatically backs up every day. Your work computer is just that: your work’s computer, it’s not yours. You can lock it when you go away but if you’re hit… I mean, if you win the lottery (positivity!) the people you work with are going to need to access it.

      As for you having to deal with Jane be a spoiled brat, there isn’t anything you can do about that. She’s BFF with her manager and you’re not — she knows she doesn’t have to behave so she won’t. Aside from finding a new job and getting out of there ASAP, the only thing you can do is be very vocal about what you’re working on and not allowing her even a millimeter into what you do because you know she’ll poach it. Whatever projects you get, she obviously is jealous and wants your job — and you gone or at least below her in the pecking order. She’s not going to stop and has no reason to because she knows her word carries more weight with her friend. Oh, excuse me, the manager you both report to.

      You have my sympathies, because this is a nightmare.

      1. nonegiven

        I don’t think IT needs your password. They have access without it. Anyone in physical possession of your computer can access it, most people don’t know how.

  10. Djuna

    Windows key + L is even quicker, locks your computer instantly. Train yourself to do it each time you step away from your desk.
    Thwart Jane Doe and watch her frustration build!

  11. OriginalEmma

    Windows key + L is your friend. Barring that, disable password saving and auto-fill on your internet browser. But seriously, lock your machine when you step away. It’s good physical computer security.

  12. BethRA

    Lock you computer when you walk away (and set it to lock on it’s own in case you walk away and forget). Wipe your browsing history frequently and don’t store passwords.

    But I think the Facebook shenanigans are the least of your problems, judging by the rest of your letter. Allison’s advice for dealing with Jane is solid, but I would not put money on her changing her behavior.

  13. Laurel Gray

    I’m sorry OP but there is something so ridiculous about this letter. Log out? Lock your computer? In this day and age where we see what people are capable of when they have access to a person’s private emails and pictures, I strongly urge you to get into the habit of locking things when you leave them unattended – phone, computer, desk. As for the phone, I also suggest taking it with you.

    1. Sadsack

      Yes, and either quit FB at work or log off conpletely every time. The pc is only saving your info because you let it.

      1. Brooke

        The time it took to write this “problem” out, versus the time it would take to Google “keep computer from saving my FB password”….

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I don’t want us to jump on the OP for that though. Not everyone is fluent enough with computers to even realize it might be an option to do that, so they don’t think of googling it.

          It makes me think me of my mom, who’s very smart and capable but still asks me computer questions she could find out by simply googling (which is what I often do to answer her). It’s not that she’s being lazy; she’s just not oriented to thinking of computer stuff in that way.

          1. AcidMeFlux

            The other thing that really bothers me is that this could be dealt with by having one coworker or supervisor take her aside, explain that it’s better to lock computers every time, and show her how. And have her practice it. It’ll take 10 minutes.
            I know there have been posts on pranks and if and when they go to0 far. This letter makes me uneasy. OP seems to need some guidance; why not give it and leave her alone?

            1. Shan

              You know, thanks for this perspective. When I first read this letter, I was concerned about OP’s work environment but really rolled my eyes at the Facebook hijacking problems, because it’s so easily prevented once you know how.

              But like you said, that’s exactly the problem – nobody is telling her how to do it. She went to HR and they didn’t suggest locking her computer; instead, they just told her they couldn’t do anything about it. It sounds like it’s everyone for themselves in that office. When coupled with the other problems she’s having with her boss and coworker Jane, makes her team seem really immature and crappy.

              I appreciate your points because I really agree with you on this. OP’s work environment is more problematic than I realized, and I hope she can move to another division or find a new job.

            2. Turtle Candle

              Yeah, it’s easy to say “duh, you should be logging out/not letting your computer remember passwords/locking down,” but given that it’s so easy to teach someone to do those things (especially Windows key+L, but even teaching someone to dump their cache/make their browser forget passwords takes at most five minutes), it bothers me a lot that nobody at her workplace has suggested that.

              I agree that the solution is to reconfigure browser settings to not remember passwords/auto-login, to reset the password to something stronger, and to habitually lock the computer. But the hacking, while obnoxious, seems less of an issue than the workplace that is responding to the issue with “shrug, I guess that’s your problem,” and not even suggesting these very easy fixes. That plus the issues with the boss and Jane makes me really feel uneasy about the whole workplace environment.

              (I now know how to do all those things, but at my first job out of college I had no idea how to lock my computer, because it had never come up in my life before–maybe if I’d had the kind of college roommate who pulled these sorts of pranks it would have, but I never did. Fortunately, within a few weeks of noticing that I didn’t lock my computer, someone was kind enough to point out how to do it. Nobody is born knowing these things.)

            3. Ad Astra

              The OP’s first step should be to delete the saved Facebook password and start locking her computer, but it’s really weird to me that these coworkers think it’s so funny to post on someone else’s Facebook. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same immaturity manifests itself in other ways that are problematic.

              In my first two jobs, I left my computer unlocked all the time, and nobody ever touched it because why would they? You should be locking your computer because you’re worried about criminals stealing or accessing your data, not because you’re worried about your coworkers messing with your stuff.

              1. EvilQueenRegina

                Yeah, that was my thought. I agree with all the lock your computer stuff, but seriously, does Jane have nothing better to do? Why does she find it so hilarious?

            4. BethRA

              “The other thing that really bothers me is that this could be dealt with by having one coworker or supervisor take her aside”

              Right, but looking at the other issues she mentions in her letter, this is not the kind of reasonable/healthy work environment where that’s going to happen. I think some folks dumping on the OP for missing the tech-related “simple solutions” are missing that part of the picture. The facebook stuff is the least of the issues here, imo.

          2. myswtghst

            Your example of your mom is a great one. I have a number of coworkers who are generally very bright, but who I’m trying (very hard) to train to use Google before asking me IT-type questions, because 98% of the time, the only reason I know the answer is Google!

                1. Not So NewReader

                  I should say, I’ve had my own version of that. “Here’s X, this will help.”
                  Say it enough times and I start to hear, “Oh, are you in charge of X?” Uh, no.

          3. themmases

            Also, I don’t know if this is still a problem, but in the past it was very easy to get logged back into Facebook accidentally because Facebook comments and widgets are embedded in websites everywhere. If you remember a rash of articles with how-to steps on how to delete your Facebook in the wake of some new privacy offense, that was why. It was incredibly easy to accidentally log in by visiting an unrelated page with embedded Facebook features or interacting with a connected app, cancelling account deletion.

            Facebook continues to track users even once they’ve logged out. I’d recommend that anyone interested in making sure they can’t be accidentally logged in to Facebook, for whatever reason, Google how to *delete* their Facebook permanently.

            I’m paranoid and don’t even really liked Facebook, so I only access it in an incognito window of a browser I don’t normally use. It works!

        2. GigglyPuff

          or could be someone with a workplace like mine, where we aren’t given access to save our browser’s preferences, our computer accounts aren’t given access to do that.

    2. The IT Manager

      Because of the way the letter was ordered it does indeed seem like the LW’s biggest problem is with the Facebook hijacking which is just shenanigans and very easily solved. It would be less shenanigans and more malicious if co-workers posted something vulgar, ugly, divisive as you instead of just saying “Jane Doe hacked you.”

      I think LW has a bigger problem at work, but her focus on Facebook makes wonder about her own priorities.

      1. myswtghst

        This made me scratch my head a bit as well. I kind of wonder if LW is already kind of “checked out” (since they talk about moving to a new role / location), so dealing with the big (and hard-to-fix) stuff like a bad boss and misplaced credit just isn’t a priority, while dealing with the annoying (but hopefully easier-to-fix) stuff is.

      2. Anna

        I don’t think it’s about her priorities. To me it read like she was writing about this thing and then realized other things were problems, too. It’s not about priorities; it’s about perspective. The OP should look at all the things she listed and decide that all of these are issues that sound like they make working in that department a pain in the ass. The Facebook thing may not be the most important thing, but it is a contributing factor.

        1. Not So NewReader

          It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. Long history of issues, now THIS! Ugh! I understand the frustration, it’s almost like a loss of power/autonomy.

  14. Smelly Pirate Hooker

    First, re:Facebook . . .

    – it’s not hacking. hiijacking maybe, but not hacking.

    – never leave Facebook open like that when you leave your desk, always always always lock the screen, or at the very least minimize the browser so it’s not evident to everyone you’re on Facebook; this might be people trying to teach you a lesson about being so brazen about using Facebook at work. When I leave my desk, I wouldn’t leave a non-work webpage open for all to see.

    The fact that Jane is taking over your projects and doing them for you is the bigger issue here. To me that seems totally disrespectful and a huge violation of your boundaries, and this is something you need to bring up with your manager. I know that seems scary since your manager is BFF’s with Jane, but you need to at least try to have this addressed. If they really don’t help you out, you need to work somewhere else. If you can’t get reassigned to another team or another office, then you need to find a new job; this a crappy place for you to be working.

  15. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    Turn off the auto-save, clear everything, lock and password protect your computer when you leave your desk. If you do this and come back from the bathroom to them STILL trying to log in to your account you have a whole other problem on your hand.

  16. Brett

    Anyone else wonder if the co-workers actually have the OP’s facebook password? There are several trivial ways to do this if you have direct access to someone’s computer.
    (The OP should change their facebook password anyway after having their account accessed by co-workers so many times.)

  17. Corby

    Facebook also supports two-factor authentication (called “Login Approvals” in Facebook’s Security settings) which mean that a password alone isn’t enough to sign in from a new browser. You have to enter your password, as well as a code that’s either emailed or texted to you, or that you generate using the Facebook app or something like Google Authenticator.

    Facebook also supports notifications etc whenever there’s a new login from a new location.

    But yes… clear out your saved Facebook password data in your browser. Lock your computer when not in use. Since no one mentioned it yet, on a Mac go to General Security Preferences and choose to require a password immediately after the screen saver activates. Then you can activate your screen saver with Shift+Control+Power (or Shift+Control+Eject) when you walk away. (Or by setting a Hot Corner in the screen saver preferences.)

    1. AcidMeFlux

      I use this multiple authentication on Facebook and was alerted to someone trying to get into my account from a location 4000 miles away one evening. I changed my passwords (for just about everything),researched tips and options and kept my eye out. A coworker of mine, on the other hand, has had trouble with her Gmail hacked from various places, but refuses to change the password that she’s had for 10 years (!!) because “it has a lot of sentimental value…”

      1. Corby

        Google also supports two-factor authentication. She could keep her password, but at least require the extra passcode for extra security.

      2. ella

        “it has a lot of sentimental value…”

        Wat. Just wat.

        I hope her google password isn’t the same as something like her bank account password or her Play account password that has ACTUAL VALUE.

  18. Ad Astra

    Was this letter written in 2008? What adult, in 2015, still thinks it’s funny to write “Hacked by Jane Doe!” when they discover someone’s logged into their Facebook?

    1. Elysian

      Ugh, I could see my dad doing this. He thinks he’s a prankster, but he’s not a very good one.

    2. Koko

      Honestly. The only time I see this in my feed is when it’s my 19 year old cousin whose 19 year old husband is doing it, or when it’s my 40-year old friend whose 9 year old son is doing it.

    3. Lizzie

      The only time I’ve ever found this remotely funny was when my friend left his account logged in at the Apple Store. One of the employees wrote a (really very polite) reminder to log out of Facebook on public computers.

  19. NickelandDime

    Lock your computer and make sure you have a good password. Someone snuck into our office one day while we were at lunch and downloaded a TON of really nasty porn onto my coworker’s computer. It took IT all day to get it off. I’m positive this wasn’t an employee of ours, but someone that came into our offices. Lock your computer always, even if you get up to get water.

  20. KT

    Alison, I love you, but the video ad the page is driving me nuts. When I try to comment or just read comments, it redirects me to the top of the page repeatedly. If I pause/stop it, it gives me 30 seconds of reading time, then redirects me again. Getting super frustrating!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m sorry that’s happening! Unfortunately, the only way for me to get these ads tracked down and removed is if I can supply the URL they’re linking to. If you can email me that, I can have them eliminated!

      (It’s not as simple as saying to my ad network “turn off video ads.” They’re off. The issue is that unscrupulous advertisers send through ads they’re not supposed to. Hence the need for the URLs, which they can block.)

  21. Workfromhome

    As others have suggested lock your PC when away but if that is not possible I’d suggest this (it will only address the “touching your projects on your computer”)

    Create a word document with a large font and big red letters” PC in use by Jane Doe. You are explicitly requested to not access or alter anything on this PC while this document is displayed”

    Leave it open and displayed on your screen when you walk away. If someone touches stuff its reasonable to confront them since you have specifically asked them not to. I mean what if you spent hours on s spreadsheet and someone deletes it? Let them know you take this seriously. If you post the document and it happens again make sure everyone can hear you when you say “I specifically asked no one touch the PC is there something about the request you don’t understand?”

    The behavior is childish but if you can’t prevent access by locking you could also unplug the keyboard when you walk away as an additonal security measure.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmmm, I’m not sure I’d do that. I don’t think her coworkers are particularly likely to respect such a sign and it might just increase their desire to mess with her. There’s a much simpler solution, as discussed above!

      1. themmases

        Yeah, I would think someone doing this was really naive and not remotely tech-savvy. It’s exactly the kind of thing that gets people messed with *more*. And if someone wanted to work on her computer while she was away, wouldn’t they just put this document back up before she came back?

        The only work computers I’m aware of that people aren’t able/supposed to lock are shared ones like in reading rooms or at nurses’ stations. If that’s the OP’s situation then that sucks, but they should be able to log off when they walk away.

        If the OP’s office just doesn’t enable locking the computer, I don’t even know what to say to that– that would be disabling a best practice. What else would such an IT department do, make everyone an admin of their own machine and tell people to download all their own software from the internet? I think it’s way more likely that the OP just doesn’t realize they can lock their computer without logging off, or isn’t in the habit of doing so.

    2. Retail Lifer

      I did something similar, but less mature. One of the idiots here had gone through my email while I was workng at an event. I left it open and on the screen because I don’t have any way to remotely check my work email and I was waiting to hear back from a vendor who was supposed to be at the event but wasn’t. I only had a couple seconds here and there to pop back in and check. When I came in the first time, a completely different email was open on my screen. I closed my email, typed up a Word document that simply said “You’re busted” and left it open for him to see. And now I lock my computer.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Yeah – I think that sometimes people think they don’t have a right to address bad behavior unless they specifically said beforehand not to do it. That is not the case. Now, if it’s something the person couldn’t not have reasonably been expected to know, then you should be especially patient and non-accusatory when you address it. But there’s no rule in life for work that you can’t correct someone if you didn’t issue a disclaimer/warning beforehand. Instead, just be direct.

  22. Mowgli

    Some employers won’t allow you to lock your computer. I worked someplace once where we were told that the computer belongs to the company, and managers should be able to access any computer at any time. Also, there were often people from other offices around, and they were allowed to jump on any computer to check something, asscess the network, etc., if there was no one at the computer.

    When you finish checking Facebook, log out of it. When you log back in, there is a box that says “Keep me logged in.” Uncheck that box, and when you close the browser, they won’t be able to get back into it again without your password.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I may be preaching to the choir here, but this is such a bad idea to just have computers unlocked. It means that there is never any kind of audit on who did what. Your managers should be able to access your computer? Sure. Give them administrative access then with their own separate logins.

      This makes about as much sense as saying “Well, no one should have individual email addresses. There should be one company email address that everyone sends from.”

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Right? Then give the manager the password to the computer. I have all the passwords, but I do expect them to be locked when people walk away from them. There are clients sometimes wandering around.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        Ugh. You would not believe how many customers we have with group emails such as sales@ or finance@. It’s like wow either you guys have a lot of turnover or management doesn’t consider you an important enough human to have your own company email account

        1. Meg Murry

          No, this is actually a good practice – not just because of turnover, but it also means that if the sales person goes on vacation for a week, he can just turn the sales@ email over to his boss and it will be seamless for the customer – no messing around with out of office messages, etc.

          Most of the time the generic email addresses like sales@ and finance@ are simply addresses that forward to a person (or group of people) and that way the individual email address can be kept just for that person. It also limits the amount of spam coming to an individual address.

        2. LQ

          You can have a group email that everyone logs into separately. So I log into LQ@awesome.com and one of the accounts I have access to jointly is sales@awesome.com. And we can all send out through sales@awesome.com but I also have LQ@awesome.com as an address. This is especially handy for things like info@ or sales@ where you start someone generic and then hand them to someone directly. I think of it like walking into a restaurant and getting seated, it’s all one place, but one server will help you.

          (I have no idea what awesome.com does…I’m not sure I want to know…Just an example.)

      3. Mowgli

        I agree, but just wanted to say that maybe she’s not allowed to lock it. I doubt she’ll be able to get her company’s policy changed, based on the interactions she’s already had with them.

    2. Meg Murry

      If you can’t remember to log out when you finish (I always forget and just close the browser window, which means I am still logged in, and now it looks like “log out” is well hidden, not obvious right up top) the other option is to only use Facebook in an incognito or private browsing window (Chrome – Ctrl+Shift+N, IE or Firefox- Ctrl+Shift+P, Safari File->New Private Browsing).

      Then when you close the browser window you are logged out. I only use the incognito window at work for Facebook, Gmail or anything else that I log in to that isn’t work related, so that it’s not automatically logged in for any co-worker that uses my computer.

      1. TootsNYC

        that’s a nice tip for the OP!

        But those coworkers will find some other way to mess with her.

        (and don’t they have any work to do?)

    3. Ad Astra

      Oh, that’s weird. Even at workplaces that didn’t ask us to lock our computers, the computers were still set up to lock after several minutes of inactivity (whatever the default is). I would have been fine with my managers asking to access my computer or, if necessary, asking IT to let them into my computer while I wasn’t around. But just randomly looking through someone’s computer is kind of odd.

    4. MashaKasha

      What the what?! How can I be held responsible for any of my work if any Tom, Dick, and Harry in the office can jump onto my PC at any time and accidentally edit or erase things? How incredibly weird.

  23. notanexpert

    Definitely second all the folks saying to lock your computer, it’s an easy solution to the problem.

    I had a similar issue that was a little harder to deal with. I work for a non-profit and we use iPads to photograph and sign in volunteers during events. My personal facebook has to be signed in in order to post updates to the organization page and every so often if it’s particularly busy the device I’m signed in on double as a sign-in tablet. The worst that ever happened was some teenager deciding to hijack my account and write a generic sentence on my wall, but I could see it being a problem/quite annoying if it happened more often.

    1. nonegiven

      I’d make a 2nd Facebook account for that, not my personal account with pictures and information about my friends’ and relatives’ children on it.

  24. Annalee

    Folks have already talked about locking computers when you leave your desk, but your company should also be strongly discouraging this behavior for security reasons.

    Some folks think this kind of thing encourages/shames people into being better about locking their screens when they leave their desks, but what it actually does is de-sensitizes your entire office to unauthorized access of workstations. In offices where this behavior is commonplace, people won’t blink when they see someone accessing a computer they shouldn’t be accessing, because they’ll just assume it’s a prank.

    You don’t need to be handling medical paperwork or the recipe to Coke for this to be important, either. Any IT security policy worthy of the name takes steps to limit access to all kinds of seemingly-innocuous information to protect employees and clients. People using each others’ logins also makes impossible to tell who is responsible for given actions on the network. It’s bad news all around.

    If you have an in-house IT department, I’d try complaining to them instead of HR. They’re more likely to see it as a network security concern and help you take steps to secure your workstation.

    1. Shan

      This is great advice I haven’t seen much elsewhere in this thread. The last two paragraphs especially! It’s just a good security practice to lock your computer when you leave. At my last job, the IT department cared wayyy more than HR about these kinds of things happening.

    2. Erin

      Yes, all of this. My husband is an IT guy/computer genius and he would totally give a standing ovation for this comment.

      OP, if you don’t have an IT department at work, have a conversation with a computer-savvy person about this issue, and let them guide you on how to make your computer and Facebook account more secure.

      1. Anlyn

        I’m an Information Security non-genius, and I’m giving a standing ovation. There have been so many news stories lately about genuine hacking (Anthem, Sony, the gov’t one I’m blanking on, etc), that locking a computer is just the start of good security. Most data breaches are caused by taking advantage of loose security practices.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      YES! I am very, very picky about people not logging into each other’s computers, unless they use the guest login (which has no access to anything except the internet). The guest login on each computer has the same password, so there’s no excuse for giving someone your password, even if they need to use your computer. Our shared docs are in the cloud, so you can use any computer to access them. I work with some pretty damn trustworthy people who don’t understand my reasoning for this, but you never know which intern, bad egg, etc. is going to do something which will be recorded under your name. Also, I often send e-mails to one or more employees that I do not want read by our interns or other in the office. Nothing scandalous, just none of their business. People are going to save their internet logins (I do!) so not sharing the computer login solves this – at least in a basic way.

    4. Meg Murry

      Yes, I agree, except the reverse – if a coworker went to any IT department whining about how her coworkers were logging into Facebook as her – it would be OP who got in MORE trouble for leaving an unsecured workstation, not the co-workers. I’m guessing this is a small company if OP is talking to the CEO, so there probably isn’t a strong IT department and policies (if there is one at all).

      1. Poohbear McGriddles

        Please do NOT complain to your CEO about having trouble using Facebook at work.

        Unless your CEO is Mark Zuckerberg and you work for Facebook.

    5. NickelandDime

      I like this response too. If someone did something like this at my office I think they’d be in big trouble. Our IT department asks that we lock our computers when we get up, and change our passwords regularly.

      1. Anna

        Same at my job. I have my own office and I still lock my computer. And if someone used my computer when I was away, I would be in trouble for not locking it and the person who used it would be in trouble for using my account to access something. (That is, if it could be proven.)

  25. LizNYC

    Sign out of Facebook. Clear all of your browsers’ caches, turn off “auto remember passwords” (some let you on a site-by-site basis) and perhaps only use Facebook on your phone while on break?

    And get a password / use your locks on your computer, if you can. There should be a default you can reset so when your computer is idle for a minute or two, it’ll ask for your password. I believe you can also lock individual documents in Word.

    As for Jane taking credit for your work, frequently keep your manager up to date about what you’re doing and how you’re progressing on projects, like “I’m working on X and Y. Jane offered to help on Z, but I have a handle on it.”

  26. Lamb

    Honey, the solution is to change your Facebook password today, and stop logging in to Facebook from work so the system doesn’t save the new one.

    Also, you seem most concerned with the Facebook posts, but career-wise they should really be the footnote to the issue of Jane taking credit for your work. All your friends can tell those aren’t your posts, but how are you going to succeed at your job (let alone ever advance) if your work keeps getting credited to someone else? What does your boss even think you do all day?

  27. Wacky Teapots

    AAM–How DO you work with someone who’s MO is “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”? (i.e.-when you’ve had your own database set up for years and now they would like to manage their own items in it?)

    1. LQ

      Assuming this is unrelated I don’t actually see the problem here…

      You made a tool so awesome other people would like to use it. That sounds great. That sounds like a very good kind of thing to put in your list of great things you did that year.

      You don’t hoard it and say no one else can use it because you made it at work and it is something that is your employer’s not yours.

      You share, then you say, hey, are there more things like this I can do? And see how I bring efficiencies to the company and how about that raise?

      1. Salyan

        It’s the too many cooks thing. One person managing a database (or filing system, or what have you) works. When you have multiple people, each insisting on doing their own thing (which is the idea I get from ‘managing their own items’)… that just makes a big mess.

        1. LQ

          That can be true, but then maybe multiple databases are needed based on the one the poster created. Or maybe the database needs to be the same one and it needs some controls on it so that some people can only enter data but not mess with other things, etc. It’s still a good thing when something you grow spreads. (Unless you work in dead diseases department at the cdc or something.)

      2. Trillian

        I suspect that you have never had to clean a database that has entries made by multiple people all ostensibly following the same set of directions. Even with the most carefully constructed edit checks (which are time consuming to build), errors and inconsistencies will creep in: spelling variations, spelling errors, capitalization inconsistencies, random bits of punctuation. Then it becomes impossible to retrieve all relevant records or calculate accurate metrics until everything has been reviewed and fixed. Someone who asks to manage their own data in a larger database — by which I assume they mean insert and edit, as opposed to simply search — does not have the experience to appreciate that. Cleaning up is not efficiency.

    2. Wanna-Alp

      You let them set up their own tables in the database under their own username, but on the tables that you have that are already in there, you carefully set up the permissions one-by-one so that you specify carefully what their username is allowed to do with the tables you set up (e.g. SELECT access but not INSERT, a.k.a. “you can read the data in this one but you can’t mess about with it”).

  28. Mena

    Um, gee, maybe you shouldn’t be on Facebook at work. Remove the icon from your computer and they can’t sign in with an autosaved password.

    And BTW, my work laptop goes to sleep and only I (or our IT supervisor) can wake it up with a password. Maybe this is applicable in your environment.

  29. Erin

    I’m as passive and non confrontational as they come, but even I would speak up and tell them to stop doing this.

    Aside from that, I agree with others that this has to has to be fixable – lock computer, change passwords, only use your phone for Facebook, etc. Maybe I’m missing something, but this can’t be that hard, right?

    I also have to echo KT’s suggestion regarding the lack of credit thing – quick email to boss saying something like, “Just wanted to let you know, Jane was a big help on the X project. Afer I touched base with the client, pulled the materials, and put together the proposal she proofread all of my work.”

    I mean, that is brilliant. Kudos to KT. You could even step it up a notch and CC Jane!

    Now keep your distance from these nutjobs until you find a more normal-functioning work environment.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      I think she said she mentioned that to boss and boss didn’t care, unfortunately

  30. Jerzy

    The only time I have ever seen people “hacking” other people’s FB pages is on the FB pages of my friend’s kids who are in middle and high school, so that should tell you the level of maturity you’re dealing with.

    That said, I agree that unless your job requires you to be on FB during work hours, log out, make sure your info isn’t autosaved, and don’t log back in from your work computer.

    Also, make it clear that unless Jane (and others) have a valid reason to go onto your work computer (like you’re out sick and you’re the keeper of some immediately needed information) they need to stay out of your work space. This has become a problem because you’ve been letting things slide. I’d be really annoyed if my coworkers were jumping on my computer without clearing it with me first. Even if it is company property, it’s company property that’s been entrusted to me, so I am ultimately responsible for it. I don’t use my husband’s work laptop at home for the same reason.

    Alison’s advice with keeping your boss up to speed on what you’re working on, as well as refusing to give Jane access to your projects, is right on target. Letting her get away with taking the credit for your work once was a bad move to begin with. I would have called her out to the boss, even if in a passive aggressive kind of way:

    “Thanks, Jane, for helping add some polish to this. After spending as much time on this as I did, it’s easy to miss some small details that needed some work.”

    If you CC your boss, it lets both of them know you did the work and you deserve the credit.

  31. some1

    Honestly, that was the tamest Facebook-hijack I’ve ever seen. Most of the status hijacks I have seen I have wanted to report for being that inappropriate.

  32. Op

    Op here: I maybe have left some things out in my original post. I work in a small office and share my office with other staff. however, I have my own computer. Sometimes during my break, I need to unwind and I log on fb. Then sometimes out of nowhere, I am called immoderately to this site. I don’t have time to lot of. I just jet off. Regardless if I sign off or log off my computer, I feel Jane doe and Joe doe should stay the frick away from my desk.
    Already, I’m learning how sabotaging Jane doe is. For instance, she’s, “responsible” for making sure we are never out of paper clips, rubber bands or paper (yes, that’s the office administrator’s job but Jane doe offered to be responsible for OUR section). Just yesterday, we were out of paper clips. I of course went to the office administrator to get a box of paper clips. Upon my return to the office, Jane doe approached me and angrily asked me, “why didn’t you tell me we were out?! Next time, tell me and I’ll be glad to get us a new box of paper clips!” Ummm?! 2 months ago, in front of a staff meeting, I went to get meeting signature page that’s located in the office we all share, she stopped me and said, “no I’ll get it because it’s my responsibility!” (It isn’t. It’s all of us’ responsibility!).

    I’m hoping to transfer soon. Just waiting to see what the progress takes.

    1. HRChick

      However you think she should behave (and I agree with you), it’s pretty clear she’s not going to meet your expectations.

      You can’t control her behavior, only your own. Lock your computer to solve the problem of them logging into your facebook account.

      For the rest, she sounds like a real peach. :-\

    2. Anlyn

      HR Chick is right. I get how frustrating this is, and that Jane should knock it the f*ck off. But she won’t.

      It takes less than a second to CTRL+ALT+DELETE and enter, or Windows+L. Do it while standing up. You have time, and it will save you SO MUCH aggravation.

      Good luck with your transfer.

      1. Meg Murry

        Your co-workers won’t quit, now that you’ve complained to HR, they’ve seen that it gets to you so they are going to keep pushing your buttons.

        Should they stay out of your workspace? Yes. Will they? Probably not.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      Sometimes during my break, I need to unwind and I log on fb. Then sometimes out of nowhere, I am called immoderately to this site. I don’t have time to lot of. I just jet off.

      Hi, OP!

      I don’t know if people were clear enough in their explanations, but the general consensus is that you should lock your computer when you walk away, not log off your computer when you walk away.

      Logging off your computer definitely will take too long. However, if you’re using Windows, you can hit Windows-L in one second before leaving your desk. If you’re using a Mac, you can set up your computer to lock the screen when the screensaver turns on and then make a corner (bottom-right, I recommend) a “hot corner” that will turn on your screensaver when the mouse cursor drifts there. When you walk away, just zoom your mouse cursor to the bottom-right corner.

      No one disagrees with you that your co-worker should stay off your computer. Your co-worker’s behavior is not acceptable. Since you can’t appeal to your co-worker or your boss to curb that behavior naturally, locking your computer is the most practical solution you have available until you leave.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          In that case, I’d recommend logging in on an incognito window in the web browser. Then, when you have to step away, you can just close the tab before locking the computer.

          That said, if you lock your computer, you shouldn’t have to log out of Facebook.

    4. MJH

      It takes literally one second to hit the Windows key and “L” so you can log off. No, Jane should not be at your desk, but if no one is working with you on this, just log off. I’m sure it takes less work time to log off than it does to come back and deal with your FB and your anger about Jane being on your computer.

    5. Jessica

      You’re being dragged down into the pettiness. Let her play her games and ignore it (and lock your computer). Say “Okay, thanks Jane,” and let it go. You’ll give yourself an ulcer trying to control her behavior.

    6. KT

      I hear you, but you have complained, and no action was taken, so you have to fend for yourself.

      I don’t buy that you get called off so quickly you can’t lock your screen. It takes less than a second.

      And the paper clip example just shows Jane has an attitude, not that she’s sabotaging you. You can only take care of you. Lock your screen, be professional, and keep your boss up to date on your work and your success.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed, Jane is who she is. Believe it or not, OP, you actually handled the paper clip situation. Remember the bigger the explosion the more impact you are having. She blew up because you went and got paper clips. That means that your gesture had huge impact to her. You already made your point, probably unknowingly on your part. To handle that, I would continue to go get my own paperclips and wait for her to break out in hives and start scratching all over.

        You’re at the BEC stage, OP. Don’t let people like this wear you down. She’s not worth it. The real problem is bad bosses and bad management that allows people like this to rule the roost.

    7. Elizabeth West

      Windows+L is super fast and you won’t have to log on and off, just re-enter your password when you come back. Clearly Jane can’t be trusted.

      I hope you get out of this circus soon. Meanwhile, thwart the monkeys!

    8. Willow

      This sounds like a toxic job. Get out ASAP. Also, you should be aware most companies have policies against personal use of work computers, even on breaks.

  33. Op

    I also want to add that one guys who “face jacked” my coworker’s account, said something about butt-raped. He actually wrote this for everyone to read. I personally am not fb friends with my co-workers as there is no need for them to know my personal business.

    I want to thank you all for suggesting the control +l. I never knew this. I’m gonna see how it goes but I was hoping what they did warrants for a termination or suspension.

    1. NickelandDime

      This is nasty. You should lock your computer and hide your phone.

      And maybe polish up your resume…These people sound beyond immature and unprofessional. I hate gags and pranks of all kinds, and this would probably have me in HR.

    2. Not So NewReader

      It does not warrant termination at your company, OP. And that is the real question. Even though they may get fired at other companies for this, they won’t at yours. I am sorry. It sounds like everything is a free-for-all there.

    3. themmases

      I’m sorry, OP, that is really gross. It should be a fireable offense and it says nothing good about your company that they apparently don’t agree.

      Just to clarify, there are two ways to keep people from using your Windows computer when you step away.

      CTRL+ALT+Delete > log off: Slow. Closes all your programs and the computer isn’t usable by anyone until they log in with their own information. No one can hack into whatever you were just working on because you closed it all. But, this method is slow. You would need to close each program yourself and save your work, or accept a delay while your programs close themselves.

      Windows Key + L: Fast. Locks your computer immediately. Doing this doesn’t log you off or close any programs, so you don’t need to save your work (although it’s always a good idea) and you don’t need to wait around. Everything will be right where you left it when you come back, but no one can get into your stuff without your password.

      Trust me, you absolutely do have time for Windows + L and it will keep people out of your work unless your password is really easy to guess. Literally everyone who works in health care does this, because a) our files are super private; and b) we are always getting called away urgently. If someone who works in the emergency room has time to do it, you have time to do it.

      1. Gloria

        Sorry, but no…
        CTRL + ALT + Delete, then Enter > Lock. Very fast, especially the more you do it. I was an IT person at a busy company, and was ALWAYS getting called away from my desk to do firefighting (I CAN’T LOG IN!! COME NOWWWWW!!!). I always did this key combination to lock my computer. OP, the more you do it, trust me, your fingers will develop a muscle memory and you’ll get very fast at it-I got to the point that I could do it AS I WAS GETTING UP. No waiting needed. Also go into your browser’s settings (I’m guessing you use IE? And do Tools (the little gear picture) > Internet Options > Click the “Delete” button > Check the “Form Data” and “Passwords” checkboxes > Click the Delete button. Doing that will clear out your FB password out of your browser’s cache, although it’ll also remove your saved form data (so like the little drop down with your name and address when you’re filling out a form), so hopefully you don’t rely on that. (You shouldn’t-that’s bad security hygiene also). Once you’ve done all that, then log into FB on your phone and change your FB password. Sounds like Jane is a nutcase, and she might have your password. It sounds like just the thing she might relish having. At this point, you’ve done everything you can, from a technical standpoint, to keep Jane out of your FB account.

        To everyone else-what Jane is doing is not “hacking”. Jane is pranking, not hacking. Please don’t give her more credit than she deserves-she’s just taking advantage of a lucky opportunity, not using any actual knowledge of how the OP’s computer system operates.

        And hey, I think I’ve found a picture of Jane’s brother: >:)
        http://img.memecdn.com/hacker_o_161851.jpg

  34. Op

    Also want to add: I want to thank you for the “control +l”. Never knew this. But it’s hard to when sometimes I have to quickly leave for a emergency site so I don’t have time to log off but I’ll keep this in mind. Overall, I was hoping maybe what they were doing warrants to termination or suspension. Or maybe I am overreacting. It just I never experiended this child-like culture at my office. Just the other day, someone “face-jacked” my co-worker’s fb status and wrote a butt-rape joke. I thought it was vulgar and grotesque. When everyone laughed, I just sat there confused.
    And no, I am NOT friends with my co-workers on fb-if anyone asked. The only reason I know this is because I get screen shots via texts.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      For the record, it’s Windows-L, not Control-L, and it really does take a second, especially when you get in the habit of doing it. I would honestly recommend it even in an office with mature co-workers. You really have no idea what can happen if you leave your computer, even if your co-workers aren’t deliberately causing mischief. Locking just makes it all better.

      I’m sorry you have to put up with all this until you leave! Windows-L will have to be your friend in the meantime.

    2. LQ

      Windows+L should take you as long as it takes to stand up or turn away from your computer. Don’t just do it now and then, start doing it every single time and it’ll become so fast and habitual that you won’t even have to look your hands will just do it.

      I would say in some places it would, but those places would also be really strict about things like locking your computer when you step away.

      1. Tau

        My company brought up “always lock your computers!” during my induction… it took a few weeks, but now locking it is completely automatic and I don’t take any longer to leave than I would otherwise. I basically just have to think “I need to get up” and I’ve already hit lock.

        1. LQ

          My team had a big push to make sure they were always locked and we knew if you walked away from our row without locking it someone would come by and put a scary YOU CREATED A DATA SECURITY LOOPHOLE guy on your screen (and then lock it for you), less than a week of that and everyone had it down no problem. It really doesn’t take time to do.

    3. HB

      Regarding the possible termination or suspension… you’ve already spoken to HR and they said it wasn’t an issue (not saying I agree with them, just that that is what you reported they said). Even if everyone here thought your coworkers should be let go for this offense, it looks like they won’t be so it is best for you to just lock the computer and prevent their hijinks.

  35. SandrineSmiles (France)

    Please, OP, lock your screen, lock your phone, lock it all.

    Small story :

    Once, in my previous job, I had a fancyshmancy phone with Internet access, and my friend needed to look something up. I stupidly lent it to her. To my dismay, she managed to send FB messages to the guy I kinda liked at the time, and managed to ruin any chances I might have had with him by being an idiot.

    The guy knew it wasn’t me, but the damage was done.

    (and for those who follow me, yes, I’m talking about Nelly)

    Also, I do hope you’re deleting the FB posts as soon as you see them. Because, ick.

  36. Ann O'Nemity

    I remember when the big thing was Hasselhoffing. Use of Windows-L (or Control-Shift-Eject on a Mac) was quickly adopted by all.

  37. DarjeelingAtNoon

    This reminds me of a place that I once worked at. Several people in this office had horrendous boundary issues. There were only a few seats that were actually designated to certain people (I never understood how they got the privilege) and it was routine for ridiculous items to be left on coworker’s desks, like yesterday’s lunch. Computers and phones were shared as well. Once I walked in and a coworker was drinking my water from my neon orange plastic cup with matching straw, which in no way resembled another cup in the company.

    I quickly learned that this lack of respect only went towards certain people and it was a losing battle to try to fight it, largely due to the nature of the office setup and the tenacity of the individuals. In response, I rearranged my entire professional approach to avoid leaving anything personal in the office, even my coat. It was a bit more work at first, but I never had to wonder if someone else’s lips had been on my cup.

    I guess my point is sometimes folks with these issues like others to get mad and complain. It gives them a thrill up their leg. Once confronted, they just switch to other equally annoying and invasive tactics. In this instance, removing anything that could be used as a weapon was the solution.

  38. Kristine

    Recommend to your supervisor that your company implement a Data Security policy, and offer to create a policy proposal and training program. Jane cannot take credit for that!
    (This would not be Handbook/Bully Admin Jane from yesterday, would it?)

  39. Macedon

    Amidst the security measures, I have to ask – OP, have you tried very straightforwardly telling the offenders, “I’m sorry, I really don’t appreciate you accessing my personal account in any capacity. I don’t find it amusing and I think it’s inappropriate. Please stop”? But with no smiles, no ‘don’t feel bad’s, nothing to soften it – you want them to be aware that you are not impressed.

    You mention going to HR about it, but I wonder if it might not be better to straight up confront your co-workers.

  40. Ms. FS

    I’m a little appalled at the number of comments that just say to lock your computer or don’t use FB at work. Posting unauthorized messages on somebody’s account, regardless if you are at work or not, seems like a huge boundary violation. If company policy says I can use the computer for occasional personal use, then I should not have to cease using it out of fear my coworker is going to hijack my account when I accidentally leave it open. When I saw this post I thought Jane was a bully and this was just another way of humiliating the OP. Course, I’m not on FB so maybe this occurs a lot more than I could imagine. Based on comments, apparently its a practical joke to post on other’s FB pages,, but I think that’s a pretty terrible joke and I would be really mad if somebody did it to me and basically think they had no respect for boundaries.

    1. LQ

      Those things are all true. But those people didn’t write in saying, hey is it cool to play on my coworkers FB?

      The coworker who had people writing on their FB wrote in, for them the solution isn’t be upset and those other people are wrong, there is a really nice, easy, fast, effective solution. Lock the computer. Would it be great if no one was boundary crossing? Yes. But I’d still tell the OP to lock their computer every time they walked away.

    2. myswtghst

      I think the key to those responses is that HR and the LW’s boss have made it clear they don’t care, so the LW is left with changing their own behavior (since they can’t control their coworkers and management apparently won’t). I completely agree with you that the pranks (especially in the further context the LW provided about offensive jokes) are not acceptable, but with that said, I don’t know what else to advise, beyond locking the computer.

    3. BRR

      I think most of us would agree with you that it’s a terrible joke and Jane has no respect for boundaries.

      I think most of us are suggesting locking the computer because a) it’s a super easy fix and b) it’s a best practice for any job that involves having your own computer.

    4. jhhj

      It is a terrible joke (in this case, there are of course places in which it would be fine), but Jane already knows the OP doesn’t like it and keeps doing it, the boss thinks it’s fine that Jane keeps doing it — there’s a very easy solution (log out/remove saved passwords or lock computer or both) that will be 100% effective, and it’s a waste of time to do anything else.

      1. Ms. FS

        Oh yes, I agree that we should default to the simple answer of locking your computer. But I felt like we should also be acknowledging that it is not ok that Jane is doing this and recognizing that her actions can and does create an uncomfortable (at best) situation at work when OP has presumably been using her computer according to company policy. If I were OP I would be direct with coworker and tell them I do not appreciate the joke and to not do it again.

    5. MashaKasha

      Locking one’s computer is a very good habit to have, that will be helpful to OP in her future jobs. It’s like locking your house when you leave or your car when you park. Jane is a bully, no argument there. All the more reason she shouldn’t have access to OP’s computer and neither should anybody else.

    6. Anonymous Educator

      I’m a little appalled at the number of comments that just say to lock your computer or don’t use FB at work. Posting unauthorized messages on somebody’s account, regardless if you are at work or not, seems like a huge boundary violation.

      I don’t see what there is to be appalled about. Most of us suggesting to lock the computer aren’t saying “Jane is great. She’s doing nothing wrong. It’s you. You just aren’t locking your computer. You deserve everything that’s happening to you.”

      It’s more that if Jane is in with the boss and isn’t going to be held accountable and won’t change her computer, the easiest fix is just to block Jane by locking the computer.

      1. Ms. FS

        Maybe appalled is too strong of word, but I was thinking about it from a perspective of personal boundary violation. Maybe perplexed is a better word to use. I was perplexed that the answer that so many suggested was to simply lock your computer, with very little reference to the broader problem of being subjected to such a violation. I guess I read the thread of comments like “duh, just lock your computer” as if it was the OP’s rookie mistake rather than a much bigger problem of having a coworker and apparently workplace condone such behavior. I think more than anything it touched a nerve because in a way, OP seems like a victim of bullying and a lot of the responses are framed in a way of blaming the victim for the problem (not locking the computer, using FB on company time) rather than acknowledging that Jane is causing the OP to feel uncomfortable. After all, the OP asks “Am I making a big deal out of this?” and my answer is no! You aren’t making a big deal out of it, you have every right to be upset. In the meantime, lock your computer so Jane can’t do that again, and look for ways to block this bully in other ways.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          And I think most other people’s answer is also “No.” Well, I can’t 100% speak for other people, but I can definitely say the OP isn’t making too big a deal, and it is horrible what her co-workers are doing. But I still stand by there being a fairly simple solution—lock your computer, especially because Jane and the boss seem chummy, according to the OP. If the OP could appeal to the higher-ups, I’d recommend that in combination with locking the computer, but even in non-toxic work environments, I still recommend people lock their computers.

        2. GigglyPuff

          I only addressed the locking the computer because it was the fastest way to stop an immediate issue. I didn’t approach the broader issue of the co-workers actions because a) I can’t offer any real advice on how to handle it, and b) after reading so much on this site, and based on what the OP had said about HR, and that the boss was friends with the person, I’m wasn’t sure there would be anything for the OP to do to try to fix the issue, and c) I knew there were people who comment that could handle that issue much more articulate than I could.

          So I decided to just address the issue I could, which I frequently do in my comments and it seems like others do, but (and I didn’t read everyone’s) I don’t think anyone sounded condescending, just sometimes expressing frustration at experiences with people they know who don’t lock their computers/phones, not targeted specifically at the OP.

  41. Kristine

    Of course it is a boundary violation! It’s also a boundary violation to be burglarized, but you therefore do not leave your home unlocked, do you?
    My org has a policy that we should lock our computers when we leave them, and also that no one, especially a member of the public, should be able to see our screens if we are telecommuting. We have a data security policy, and state government mandates that we take a training on it annually.
    A data security policy is a good idea, but so is personal data security in the absence of one, and at a workplace environment such as the OP’s.

  42. Ms T

    It says something about me and my industry that the first thought that comes to my mind is “Well of course they’re going to do that! That’s the joke!”
    What your coworkers are saying is “I could have done many terrible things because of your negligence, and you would be the one accountable. But I didn’t.” Its a friendly warning so that you don’t do it again.

    I haven’t been in a corporate environment which didn’t have the policy that you’re computer MUST ALWAYS be locked WHENEVER you step away from your computer. When you are logged in with your account, anything that happens on that computer is happening under your name. If something bad happens (corporate info mailed to a competitor, as the extreme example), then YOU are the ones they will dicsipline. You can’t say it was someone else; the log trail is evidence in court that you are the one that did it – or, if you didn’t lock your computer, that you were the one who disobeyed corporate policy and failed to take proper care to protect company resources. Locking the computer whenever you step away is such a simply policy, but it goes miles in protecting both the company and you specifically.

    I know what I’m saying sounds like an extreme case. But the sad fact of the matter is that its not – we have two or three cases in my company every year where someone is fired for something like this, and either they or someone else (a contractor on the same floor, for example) tried to access and publize data that was meant to remain confidential.

  43. Rubyslippers

    I want to thank you all again. Although, I do go on fb at while, it’s mostly during breaks. Nevertheless, I was hoping most of yall would agree what they were doing was offensive enough to warrant termination especially since they violated my privacy-such as getting on my assigned computer. It’s the same thing as going through my purse as someone above mentioned. I’ve seen my co workers hacking not only on their computers but their iphone as well. A lot of you guys think my main issue was fb hacking. Well it isn’t just fb, it’s everyone’s behavior. I honestly feel like it’s a pee-wee Herman adventure show here. 2 of my employees always skip 2 days a week every week, and I have to cover their cases. Both of them should’ve been fired long ago but because our clients love them-they’re on board. I feel like because they’re my boss’ fave people, they’re safe. I think clearly the key here is: get the hell out. I want to badly but jobs are scarce. If I transfer, I’ll keep yall updated. Meanwhile, I’ll keep the tips about fb.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Nevertheless, I was hoping most of yall would agree what they were doing was offensive enough to warrant termination especially since they violated my privacy-such as getting on my assigned computer. It’s the same thing as going through my purse as someone above mentioned.

      I don’t know about everyone else, but I think it’s extremely out of line, and if your letter had indicated your boss might take termination into consideration, I would advocate for reporting the behavior to your boss.

      Given this line…
      I can’t talk to my boss about the problems because Jane and my boss are BFFs; they even share everything on Facebook and attend each other’s parties.

      … I didn’t even think termination was worth bringing up. In this situation, it’s all about survival mode until you can get out.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Their behavior is ridiculous, but as you can see from the comments, it’s not uncommon. If everyone behaved reasonably there wouldn’t be a need for this blog!

      You didn’t mention getting Jane terminated, your only talk of complaining or seeking disciplinary action said that her boss is her BFF, so you seemed to just be asking our opinion, and I think most of us tried to indicate how you could prevent this sort of thing from happening by changing your computer/browser/website settings.

      But yes, you need to GTFO of that toxic environment. At best, the boss doesn’t care what Jane is up to; at worst, she’s encouraging it and laughing about it with her.

    3. TootsNYC

      Nevertheless, I was hoping most of yall would agree what they were doing was offensive enough to warrant termination

      It doesn’t matter what we think.

      We’re not in your real world.

      It only truly matters what the opinions are of the people in your real world.

      We can offer advice and perspective, that’s it.

      But I’ll say that as a boss, I’m not sure I’d fire someone over this. I’d tell them to stop.
      But I’d also tell YOU to lock your computer, and stop logging into Facebook from work.
      Or set your browser/keychain so that it won’t remember your Facebook password, and then go Incognito, or quit out of the browser.

    4. Nerdling

      We could validate your feelings about termination until the cows come home, but it wouldn’t do anything to improve your situation. And honestly, in my business, walking away from an unlocked computer is orders of magnitude worse than making a post on someone’s unlocked Facebook page – the offender most likely to be reprimanded here is the one leaving the computer open – so my advice would still be to lock your computer.

      Your biggest issue here, from a professional standpoint, isn’t the Facebook stuff; it’s someone else taking credit for your work. Someone above had an excellent script for that. Keep yourself a paper trail of emails updating your boss about progress as you go. And work to get a transfer, because that problem won’t truly be solved until you have a new boss.

  44. JessaB

    Also immediately change your passwords. Because if you haven’t locked down the password saver, all they had to do was click on “show passwords.” So just logging out is not enough.

  45. Jady

    Seriously it sounds like 100% of these problems are solved by locking your computer when you are not present. All computers have this, it’s a basic major security feature. You should always lock your computer under all circumstances, regardless of whether it’s at work or at home or in a coffee shop. Your home could be broken in and your computer stolen. Don’t ever make it easy for anyone to access your computer without your direct supervision.

    Lock your computer with a password. Then you can do whatever the hell you want and no one is going to have access to anything you don’t give them to.

    If for some insane reason your job prevents this somehow – get yourself a personal laptop or find a new job, cause that place is incredibly stupid.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      About locking in general and not about the OP’s question in particular…

      While I do highly recommend locking your computer, you should also keep in mind that if you leave your computer screen locked but in a coffee shop unattended (or if your home gets broken into), you aren’t actually protecting your computer—just your login session.

      If a thief has your computer in her possession for an extended period of time (not 1-5 minutes but hours or days or weeks), the locked screen doesn’t do a whole lot. If you don’t have full disk encryption, the thief can easily reset password and get your files (including web browser saved logins)… or even just physically remove the hard drive / SSD and attach it via USB to another computer to get your stuff.

      And even if you do have full disk encryption, you have essentially lost your computer… maybe the files won’t be compromised (and presumably you have backups in the Cloud or elsewhere), but the thief won’t need your password to wipe the device and resell it.

    2. Gloria

      Seriously it sounds like 100% of these problems are solved by locking your computer when you are not present.

      Not so. OP is in a very dysfunctional workplace and the sooner she gets out, the better for her. Locking her computer is only a partial solution. The true solution is to work somewhere where management sees pranking and stealing credit for others’ work as the completely inappropriate behavior it is.

  46. Q

    It’s not hacking if you left it open and logged in. Why would anyone walk away from his/her work computer for even a few seconds and not lock it?!? Ctrl/Alt/Delete is your friend.

  47. Christine

    How about hitting ctrl+alt+delete to lock the screen? We actually have a policy that you can’t leave your computer unattended.

  48. No name

    I learned not to save all my passwords the hard way; I had a crazy boss that demanded she be given my passwords to my computer logon.

    I believe she read an email where I told a friend she had a mustache. I am happy to not work there anymore.

  49. Former top ten MBA Student

    This is why every time I get up from my desk, even for a second, I lock my computer. Problem solved. In fact, all of your problems solved.

    In my very first job, on my very first day, the CEO of the company told me to always lock my computer. He said if not he will play pranks on me. He said in fact, a few years prior an employee had not locked his computer and left for the day. The CEO got on the computer and typed an email to himself (the CEO) saying “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE I QUIT!!” The CEO then replied to the email (which the employee saw on his phone) saying, we will discuss this in the morning.

    So, point made. The CEO said it’s for privacy issues on behalf of our clients, and that’s why he taught the lesson in a very funny but memorable way.

    1. OldAdmin

      In every job I’ve had, the same strict locking policy was enforced.

      Bosses or sysadmins otherwise would send emails from the unlocked computer inviting everybody for drinks in the evening, or issue ludicrous “IT Traffic Tickets” etc.

  50. Willow

    Don’t use Facebook on your work computer. Only use it at home or on your cell phone/iPod/etc. The company I work for fires people for Facebooking at work. You should be working when you are at work. If you don’t have enough to do, ask your boss for more or look for another job.

  51. Robyn Roscoe

    There is really no work-related reason to be using Facebook on your work computer. Why the company allows this is a bit beyond me. Regardless, if you don’t want others to use your account, then stop logging on at work. Clear your internet history, change your Facebook password and security settings, and stop using it on your work computer. Perhaps that will give you more time to get stuff done and then you won’t need Jane’s help on anything any more.

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