how can I avoid my boss on social media?

A reader writes:

My manager has added/requested to follow me on nearly every social media channel on which she can find me, including Instagram and Snapchat.

It just irks me to be constantly “in her presence” when not at work. She is a micromanager and requires lots of check-ins as it is, and I need a break. However, the rest of my team is on board with this, and have all added one another and our boss to their social feeds. (Some context – they are all in their 20s, I am in my late 30s with kids.) Moreover, we are also all on a team WhatsApp chat (no business — all social), and I feel pressure to keep up with the constant chatting even after work hours. I didn’t have the choice to be left off of this one, and if I leave the channel, it will be obvious.

I want to fit in and be a “team player,” but I feel like I have no privacy or time that is just mine. If it were just my coworkers, great. But I don’t want the boss mixed in with my social media/non-working time. I feel that she should have probably drawn the line somewhere, but she doesn’t really do a good job of separating personal time from working time in general.

Is this the new normal? Does it look bad if I don’t participate?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

{ 161 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. essEss

    “Sorry boss. In order for me to have a healthy work-life balance, I am keeping my work and social media lives separate.” Then unfriend the boss from Facebook, and unhook from work media after hours.

    Alternate wording –
    “Having work resources mixed into my social media is unhealthy for my relationships at home. I need to keep work and personal separate.”

    Reply
    1. theschnauzer

      Yeah, I was thinking – it could make sense to explicitly bring up the kids as a reason to unplug. “I want to spend as much quality time as I can with my children, I hope you understand” is a little harder to argue with, and hopefully would make them see reason for goodness’ sake.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        The first one sounds fine to me…? I think whether it comes off judgmental will depend on tone.

        Reply
    2. MLB

      I wouldn’t say a word. Disconnect yourself from your boss AND all co-workers on all social media. If anyone asks, just say you decided to keep your work and personal lives separate. I’m only on Facebook so I don’t know how other apps work, but on FB if you’re still friends with co-workers and those people are friends with boss, she can still see your stuff depending on how everyone sets up privacy. I only friend people I’m friends with outside of work on FB because I don’t want to have to filter myself.

      Reply
    1. Foreign Octopus

      You say that (and I appreciate the reference to the letter of old) – but I was once invited to a sleepover by a coworker. There was an age difference there – me, late twenties, her, in her late teens – and I was just so horrifically uncomfortable by the suggestion that I didn’t know what to say. I think I made some excuse about anything else but that and got out of it. I feel a bit bad in hindsight because she was clearly still young enough that sleepovers were a thing people did with friends, and she clearly thought we were friends, but she was still too young to know that you don’t ask your coworkers over for one.

      Reply
      1. Zombeyonce

        I’m guessing that if she’s a decent amount older now, she looks back and cringes so hard at asking you to a sleepover.

        Reply
      2. I See Real People

        My former boss (who was boundary-challenged) lived further away from work than most of my coworkers. When talking inclement weather policy one day, she announced that someone would need to let her stay the night at their nearby home in case the weather turned bad. No one volunteered.

        Reply
      3. Backroads

        I did once host a sleepover for coworkers!

        The context: We were camp staff. I was in early/mid twenties at the time. I’m a teacher, which is why I did the camp thing during the summer. We females live in very close and overly quarters during the summer. I announced the sleepover as a way to prepare for this (though roughly half of us were returning). It was a lot of fun. This sleepover did include some teenagers as well as the college/early 20s crowd.

        There was definitely some cultural and situational context to this, but, yikes, this will likely be the only time I invite coworkers to a sleepover.

        Reply
  2. King Friday XIII

    Unless they use FB Purity, they won’t know if you unfriend them. And hey, if you do and they say something, say “oh must have been a weird glitch” then hide and filter them out if you have to.

    I try to keep my social media separate from my Government Name for reasons like this, but Facebook keeps recommending people to me everywhere and I hate it. My coworkers don’t need to be on my instagram.

    Reply
    1. Let's Talk About Splett

      Not to be all Not Everyone Can Have Sandwiches but it’s pretty easy to figure out if someone unfriended you depending on the interaction you have with them or mutual friends.

      Reply
    2. Amber T

      If Boss things all of their coworkers are their best friends and are constantly looking and seeing whatever OP posts, and then it suddenly disappears, it’ll be pretty easy to figure out.

      Reply
    3. Self employed

      One of the ways it does that is by phone number. If you delete your phone number from your FB account, you may see some relief.

      Reply
      1. zapateria la bailarina

        thank you for this! i’m hoping it helps, the constant friend recommendations drive me crazy!

        Reply
    4. aebhel

      Same. My Facebook account is literally the only one other than LinkedIn that I have under my real name, and I don’t accept friend requests from anyone as a matter of course.

      I’m very active online, but nowhere that my boss and coworkers need to know about (not that it really matters, since I mostly work with people who understand boundaries).

      Reply
  3. Non Sequitor

    I have a good boss. We’re connected on FB. She occasionally interacts with my posts. But, she once commented on a post I made and told me I was awesome, which was slightly odd. 3 days later I was rejected for a promotion. While I appreciated the effort to soften the blow and demonstrate that she still valued me, it was juuuuuuuuuuuust a bit awkward and made me reconsider my privacy settings. We’re still good, I’m just more mindful.

    Reply
    1. Non Sequitor

      In other news, for coworkers or folks I don’t want to “friend” I just tell them I’m not on facebook much, if they ask.

      Reply
        1. Becky

          When I still had a Facebook account I would only friend people who I hung out with outside of work (which was very rare).

          Reply
        2. Tableau Wizard

          I tell people this and people always ask why – especially when a group of coworkers does occasionally hang out outside of work.

          I’ve struggled in the past with giving a good reason to a well meaning coworker, but I have SO many good reasons – just not ones I can easily put into words.
          My reasons include: if I decide to leave and my facebook indicates I’m in other city (because of an interview), i don’t want coworkers knowing those details. if i’m pregnant and someone lets it slip to facebook, i don’t want coworkers knowing those details before I’m ready. so many reasons.

          Reply
        3. Non Sequitor

          I’m not that nice, I just hate confrontation… and no doubt that some jerk would try to tell me why I should friend them despite whatever policy I have. Instead, they just think I’m boring or a luddite, which I can live with.

          Reply
        4. The Original K.

          Me too. I connect with current coworkers on LinkedIn but no other social media, and I say just that. (I’m actually NOT on FB much anymore, but still – it’s LinkedIn only for current colleagues.)

          Reply
        5. You don't know me

          This. I always say “Sorry, Facebook is a work-free zone”.

          All my other social media accounts are private and I never talk about them at work so as far as I know, my coworkers don’t even know I have them.

          I know some younger co-workers have two accounts on things like Instagram and Twitter. The unfiltered real account they use with friends and a basic boring one that’s for their parents/bosses/coworkers to view.

          Reply
          1. LSP

            I have three Twitter accounts. One is for work-related things (no politics, no fandoms), one is for ALL politics and fandoms, and one is for my Etsy account, which, as I make quilts, bibs and dice bags all in sci-fi/fantasy themes, is all fandoms and crafts.

            Reply
          2. TardyTardis

            I have two FB pages, one a friend page I chat with friends and politics and so on, while the other is where I will be selling the information products I’ve acquired (but it’s pretty upfront that’s what it’s for, so anyone can avoid it if they don’t like it).

            Reply
  4. plot device

    Yikes.

    I currently work in an environment where my colleagues are almost all Facebook friends. I am extremely relieved that none of them has tried to add me (knock on wood, it’s been 18 months).

    My general rule is to accept colleague requests to connect on LinkedIn (ostensibly because it’s a professional platform). Any other media can wait until after we no longer work with one another. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone push back on that.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      I think this can totally just be “your weird thing,” like haha Lil Fidget just doesn’t do social media, she’s a bit quirky that way – and it’s fine, especially if you never get it started in the first place. It’s unfortunate if that plays into other stereotypes though, like you’re not a team player / you’re older than the rest of the team / you’re less available for work after hours / you’re less committed overall – which it sounds like could be an issue for this OP. I hope you can keep it squarely in the realm of Personality Quirk.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        Yeah, I’m a social media Grinch and it’s generally just a thing people notice about me when it comes up for the first time and then never really gets brought up again. Thankfully I’ve always been that way so everyone who’s known me for any amount of time is aware of that little “quirk”, but I can imagine OP could indeed veer into that direction herself with the excellent “I’ve decided to limit my social media intake” script Alison provided.

        (Also, I just had to stop myself several times from abbreviating “social media” to “SM”. I’m not even into abbreviations much, what is going on here, brain?!)

        Reply
    2. annakarina1

      Yeah, I never wanted to be friends on Facebook with co-workers, because I wanted to separate between my work life and personal life. Only after we stopped being co-workers did I feel OK with connecting with them on social media, and I am friends with co-workers from a few old jobs.

      Reply
  5. Jenn

    I never used to friend managers but at my last job the manager was friends with everyone in the department and used it as a bonding thing. Picture that episode of Friends where Rachel started smoking again because so many conversations occurred over cigarettes. That’s what it felt like. So I friended her finally. Here it’s not as much of an issue. I don’t send requests to direct reports. If they send an invite to me, I’ll accept it. But I also barely use my social media so that helps.

    Reply
  6. KR

    Hey OP, you can mute notifications on WhatsApp conversations so I would encourage you to do that when you leave work, right around the time you logged off your computer and get your things together. Alison’s right that a few responses throughout the day could make it seem like you’re involved. You can also make it one of your morning duties, much like checking voice mail or email, to check the WhatsApp and respond to whatever needs to be responded to to make it clear you are only going to respond during work hours unless it’s urgent.

    Also, it’s such a normal thing to not connect with your boss on social media that if you get push back with he scripts Alison offered you can feel free to politely listen when your boss laments that she can’t see pictures of your cat on your Facebook and then continue doing what you’re doing! I am very selective with my friends on most social media platforms and up until recently didn’t even have a Facebook and all my friends and co-workers survived. I am friends with one (1) coworker on Snapchat and that is it and that’s only because we’re pretty close and both around the same age group. LinkedIn is for connecting with coworkers online and that is it imo.

    Reply
    1. Rey

      I agree with KR: mute notifications on WhatsApp! Also, if you are only using it during work hours and not after that, delete the app from your phone and only use the web version. There is no reason to let your work life invade your home life. Do it as a self-care gift to yourself!

      And for what it’s worth, you can and should unfriend whoever you want from social medial (in all it’s forms). If you want to set a clear boundary, you could purposely add coworkers/manager on LinkedIn, and clear them from everything else.

      It sounds like your team is very into the social aspects of working together every day. If you want to be involved to some level, just not on the internet, I would be mindful of participating in team birthdays, office lunches, etc. for the next little while. And you can always tell coworkers that you prefer socializing IRL instead of online.

      Reply
      1. ENFP in Texas

        “There is no reason to let your work life invade your home life.”

        This, this, this!! Your personal time is just that – personal!

        Reply
      2. AsItIs

        “delete the app from your phone and only use the web version”

        O_O

        Can you do that? Have an iPhone and to get the web version to connect I scan the QR thing using the app (I don’t stay connected permanently), and sometimes during the the connection between the web version and the phone is lost, and have to open the app/wave the phone in the air to resume.

        So how can I delete the app and only use the web version? It would be most useful to me if I can do that, but I thought the web version can only be used with the app nearby.

        Reply
  7. Let's Talk About Splett

    I work in a very regulated industry with social media policies including that you can’t be friends with your supervisor on Facebook. I am actually not sure what specifically is behind that policy but I am so happy about it that I don’t care.

    I was once friends with a coworker on Facebook (I considered her an IRL friend, too.) Then she became my boss and being FB friends was awkward. And I knew her well enough that she would have been upset if I unfriended her and punished me for it.

    Reply
    1. Michaela Westen

      Unfollowing is good, depending on the specifics of the situation. They don’t know you’ve unfollowed them, and they can still see you.

      Reply
    2. CanCan

      And in addition, you can set your privacy setting for each new post as “Friends except Letitia Jones”. Letitia will just think that you don’t post very often. My mom does it with a friend who’s become a very antagonistic commentator on my mom’s posts, but whom my mom wouldn’t want to openly be in conflict with by unfriending her.

      Reply
  8. Lil Fidget

    Ugh, I feel this way just in my own social life – I don’t want to use the latest app, I don’t want to check multiple platforms, and I don’t want to be constantly “on.” I’m sad that this is leaking over into the work world as well.

    Reply
  9. yet another Kat

    My strategy is to keep one channel (aside from LinkedIn) set aside for non-personal friending. For me, that’s instagram. I don’t care how many pics of my dog, my dinner, or my vacation colleagues see. That way I have a place where I can accept all awkward requests/follows, and can keep my personal thoughts, political opinions, etc on fb and twitter.

    Reply
  10. H.C.

    Yeah, I would go the extra step and “un-friend” or leave those groups (unless there’s an actual work purpose to that group), and just repeat “I’d like to keep my work and personal lives” ad nauseam. Also, check your profiles’ privacy settings and adjust as needed.

    Those few moments of awkwardness are totally worth the healthy boundaries and not feeling like you’re being monitored by boss & co-workers all the time.

    Reply
    1. Glomarization, Esq.

      Heartily endorse this comment. I’d rather be the weird one in the office who’s not connected with everybody else on social media, than be caught up in the drama and boundary-crossing that inevitably happens with co-workers are FB friends.

      Reply
  11. Nicotene

    This letter is timely for me, I’m part of a creative industry (writing) and was so, so bummed to be told by an editor that it’s expected that novelists will be all over social media, posting and tweeting, and trying all the newest platforms to reach early subscribers of whatever is coming up. I’m by nature a curmudgeonly person who doesn’t want to do any of this stuff even for my real actual life, so I’m wrestling with how I’m going to survive this new world where fans expect and demand personal access to creators :(

    Reply
    1. Classic Rando

      Set up professional accounts that are separate from your personal ones. Keep your personal accounts private for real friends/family only and direct all others to the professional one.

      Reply
      1. Turquoisecow

        Yeah, this. I know a few people who have clearly separate personal and professional accounts on social media. As far as the “professional” friends know, it’s the only account.

        I have two twitter accounts – one for my cats and one for me. This isn’t a professional issue, but I post and follow other cat accounts with the cats and leave other personal/political comments and etc to the personal account. (There’s a little bit of overlap, obviously). I think it’s definitelt possible to do something similar as an author or someone who needs to brand themselves.

        Reply
      2. AH

        Seconding this! I also work in an industry where you’re expected to have a Social Media Presence, and I have secret anonymous locked accounts for friends/family where I post my travel pictures / political rants / weird health stuff / whatever.

        And, yeah, my professional accounts will immediately follow anyone who works for me, because that’s just the way we roll, but I’d never be offended if they muted/blocked/didn’t-follow-me-back/whatever — their prerogative!

        Reply
    2. College Career Counselor

      This is what a social media intern is for! Perhaps the editor in question HAS a social media intern they could lend you?

      Reply
    3. Sue Wilson

      Don’t think you have to respond to everything (or even anything). Set up timed posts in one sitting if you can.

      Reply
    4. Kiwi

      Make use of your fans. Jenny Crusie does this brilliantly (arghink.com). If she wants to know what her fans think of an idea, she blogs about it. Plus stuff from her real life, but you can be as open as you want – or not.

      Reply
  12. On The Spot

    I’m the boss and wouldn’t dream of asking any of my people to be my FB friend. If they send me a request I’ll usually say yes, but I’d never initiate it. Me = boomer. Them = millennials. They frequently hang out together after work and I think it’s great to have a team of people who like each other. But I am not their friend; I’m their boss and have to love them from afar!

    Reply
    1. hermit crab

      But I am not their friend; I’m their boss and have to love them from afar!

      Haha, yes! The one silver lining of my former, wonderful manager leaving our organization was that now we can be friends on FB and I get to see the photos she posts of her awesome dogs.

      Reply
    2. Curious Cat

      My professors from college (and even high school) had the same rule – they would never friend their students first, but if a student friended them after the class was over, they would accept.

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        Many of the faculty where I work have connected with former (and current) students on FB. Many of those faculty also feel weird about doing it, but don’t know what to say/do instead. “This is what LinkedIn is for,” I tell them. (Most of them only know LI as “something that keeps inviting me to connect.”) Unless you’re very, very close with your (hopefully former) student and don’t care what else they see/know about you and your FB feed, LinkedIn is by far the better choice. The relief I’ve seen from faculty over this after I’ve explained LI is incredible.

        Reply
        1. plot device

          Years ago, when Facebook was still cool with The Youth, an acquaintance was telling me that she was on FB so she could “friend” her students (high school age). I thought this was really weird and said so. She said the administration and parents wanted them to do it in the name of “accessibility” so that the kids would know how to reach their teachers if they had a question outside of class.

          I shudder at the thought. (Also, I realize this story sounds like it was going in a different direction. It didn’t. All parties totally above board.)

          I can’t imagine how many schools might have had that policy and how many students go off to university without thinking twice about “friending” an instructor.

          Reply
          1. nonymous

            my MIL is a retired high school teacher, and her rule was that she would accept all students’ FB friends requests the day after they graduated. Because that’s when they moved from the “student” category to the “friend” category.

            Reply
          2. TardyTardis

            My husband the former chemistry teacher had his own web page on the school site where he would post assignments and whatnot, and answer questions there if he ever decided to go online that night. Most students learned to ask their questions while in class…

            Reply
        2. MamaGanoush

          I only friend former students on FB if they have graduated and we are actually friends. Otherwise, LinkedIn. I do reply to students who send me a FB friend request to explain why I turn it down and to talk briefly about appropriate boundaries at school and work (I can’t resist an opportunity to do the old person life advice thing).

          Reply
    3. soupmonger

      I’m in an identical situation, even down to the generation difference. I do exactly the same – the only employees I’m friends with are those who requested it. And I sometimes ‘like’ but don’t comment.

      Reply
    4. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

      Yep! At my old job, I was the boss, and I never initiated FB friend requests. Even now that I am in a new job where I am not the boss, I haven’t really asked any of my coworkers to be FB friends, except for two who I have become somewhat close with.

      Reply
  13. Turquoisecow

    My old boss friended me on Facebook (he sent the request and I accepted because of course I did, he was my boss!). It was mildly awkward, but not too bad. Then one day I noticed I wasn’t seeing him pop up in my feed anymore. I investigated and saw we were no longer friends. I assumed he had decided not to friend his reports (I think I was his only report at the time) and didn’t think much of it.

    Then one day at lunch it came up in conversation with another coworker – I think coworker was saying something he had seen one of us post and the other hadn’t seen it since we were no longer friends. Boss insinuated that I had unfriended him and I said that I had not.

    After some back and forth, he realized that his wife, in a fit of jealousy, had unfriended me and several other female friends of his. I tried not to talk about it, but I got the impression that his wife was jealous of me because I was his first direct report and we obviously worked closely together – especially when I first started and he was training me – and so he probably talked about me a lot at home. Neither of us refriended the other. I told him that since he had unfriended me, it was up to him to initiate a new request. He never did.

    A few years after that, he was let go from the company. I considered friending him again on Facebook but never did.

    Reply
    1. Workerbee

      Eeesh, what a mess.

      His wife would just unfriend you on his behalf again anyway, unless he was able to negotiate having a private password for his own account. *eyeroll*

      Reply
      1. TurquoiseCow

        Yeah, that was my expectation also. I don’t know if she knew his password or she just sneaked on to his phone or computer when he wasn’t looking, but he seemed kind of … unsurprised? that she would have done this.

        Reply
    1. music

      that’s bizarrely aggressive. your boss will know you’ve done that, and then you end up defending your weird choice, rather than just letting things unfold normally or having a real conversation with her.

      Reply
      1. KR

        I’m not sure if I would categorize it as aggressive, or a “weird choice”, but a very clear cut expression of boundaries. I blocked my father in law on a certain social media platform preemptively. I just don’t want to interact with him in that space and he will get over it if he hasn’t already. Facebook suggested my grand boss as a possible friend. I both didn’t want my profile showing up on his account and to accidentally hit “Add” somehow on my phone, so I blocked him. Blocking doesnt have to be negative, sometimes it’s just a very clear way of saying “Let’s not communicate in this way on this platform in this place.” It’s like when you see a coworker at the grocery store and you pretend you don’t see them so they can live their life in leave without thinking of work while buying Lima beans.

        Reply
      2. Glomarization, Esq.

        It’s a step further than I would go, personally, but I don’t think it’s outside the range of unreasonable. If boss asks why they can’t find me on social media, my answer would be a very straightforward, “Yeah, I just don’t mix work and my out-of-work personal life. So when do you need that next TPS report, again?”

        Reply
      3. Mina, the Company Prom Queen

        How would their boss know if the employee blocked her? If the boss makes an issue of it and asks why she can’t find the employee on FB, employee can always just play dumb or say it must be a glitch or something.

        Reply
  14. Glomarization, Esq.

    I avoid connecting with co-workers and clients on social media. Outside of LinkedIn, social media is for friends, not workplace people. Different strokes for different folks, but I don’t like to mix friends/family and work. I think most people would understand and accept that view, even if they themselves are OK with mixing.

    Reply
  15. voyager1

    I like the mute and unfollow options on Twitter and FB. I have an instagram acccount too, but I don’t post to it all.

    My general rule is FB requests from former coworkers I accept. If we work at the same company I accept but mute/unfollow. If we are on the same team then no bueno until you or I leave the team.

    This works very well for me, but I don’t know how well this will work for the LW. In my experience younger folks aka early 20s are way more into FB requests to just about anyone at work.

    Reply
  16. Too much connection

    This is similar to my work environment and I hate it. We have a WhatsApp group that includes my boss. She absolutely manhandles it, using it at times for random (and sometimes inappropriate) jokes – one was a joke about breastfeeding that left me feeling not too great. Other times it is for important information that would be best in an email, or worse, individual admonishments that should really be a one-on-one conversation. I mite the group in the weekends ans on some week days when it gets to be too much.

    She also requested to be friends on Facebook. I finally caved in after 2 months and accepted because we had a facebook friend in common (a co-worker) and I worried that not accepting might hurt our professional relationship. I deactivated my account because she would get into terse back-and-forth with my friends on my page when commenting on my posts.

    Reply
    1. RUKiddingMe

      “…she would get into terse back-and-forth with my friends on my page when commenting on my posts.”

      What the hell? Inappropriate much?

      Reply
  17. KimberlyR

    I have several friend requests from coworkers just sitting there, doing nothing. It is a little awkward because I am “friends” on facebook with other coworkers but no one has actually asked about those friend requests. I used to Deny them but then one guy kept sending the requests over and over so now I just ignore them completely. I just don’t like some of my coworkers enough to let them know about my personal life outside of work. (And in the case of that one guy, I think he’s a little creepy. He works in a different office so we’re limited to phone/email conversations only and I’m much happier that way.)

    Reply
    1. Arjay

      I’m not sure how it works currently, but at one time people with pending FB friend requests could see everything on your page that was set to “friends”. Just a word of caution…

      Reply
      1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

        My understanding was that the person who received the request could see more of the requester’s page than normal. But if it was ever symmetrical, then that sounds like a pretty glaring loophole.

        Reply
  18. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

    I am friends on FB with a couple of co-workers that I’m pretty friendly with, but I don;t actively solicit friend requests. My rule is that they have to be the one to make the request, and no one who is senior to me AND no clients. I will friend former customers and/or managers after we no longer have a working relationship, but I don’t sh*t where I eat if you get my drift. I actually have one client who got huffy with me about it (she’d recently had a baby and when I was making friendly chatter about how big her daughter must be getting she said “I guess you’d know if you were friends with me on Facebook”), but it’s a personal policy that I don’t make exceptions for.

    Reply
  19. Mephyle

    For FB, it takes a little extra work (really little; I mean a one-time effort of about one or two minutes), but you can consider doing it the way Alison describes: make a non-personal group on FB, and occasionally post innocuous posts which that group can see, and restrict the rest of your FB posts to only your personal Friends.
    This is an effective strategy to get around the situation where any co-workers or managers might be offended that you’re on FB but you don’t friend them. You can also put any relatives and acquaintances whom you don’t want seeing personal stuff in that group or in their own non-personal-stuff group.

    Reply
    1. nonymous

      Honestly, I’ve switched to a model where my social media feed is entirely innocuous (dogs, food, vacation spots) and clearly not spontaneous. Anything with more depth, I just use group chat/DM options. I do respond to others’ posts though.

      Reply
  20. Faith

    My (male) ex-boss has friended me on Facebook, then made a huge fuss when I ignored his friendship request. When I finally relented and added him, he went through my friends list and sent request to all of my single female friends. He would also try to engage them in a conversation when they commented on my posts. He actually told me how “hot” my friends were and how I could start my own “mail order bride” agency (a lot of my friends were Eastern European). I ended up changing my privacy settings to where none of my new posts were visible to him. He did fuss at me about not seeing any posts, but I just played dumb and blamed Facebook algorithm. Oh, and I also reported him to HR. Took them several months to let him go despite the fact that this was just a small part of everything that was wrong with him as a manager and a human being.

    Reply
    1. Curious Cat

      whAT? Oh my god I’m gagging, that’s the most repulsive/inappropriate thing I’ve heard. Ugh I’m sorry that happened to you and your friends. Glad he was eventually let go.

      Reply
  21. Phoenix Programmer

    Unfriended d everyone. If they ask say “I don’t friend active colleagues” Then stick to that and no friending coworkers.

    Reply
  22. Bea

    I remember the feeling of “omgwtf” when a boss added me on Facebook. I accepted because my mom is friends with me on Facebook so it’s not like I’m ever going to post anything overly personal.

    We do share different politics so I quietly put anything to do with that on a filter.

    Just like when I was in the process of leaving my garbage job last year, I hid the comments about the whole mess from the coworker I had added. I’m always hyper aware of who may see my feed and it’s actually good for me, I’m less likely to post ridiculous drunken comments since I know the adults are possibly watching.

    Reply
    1. Michaela Westen

      That would be too much work for me! I haven’t had this come up, but if it does I’ll keep my FB personal friends only!
      Half the fun of FB is discussing politics or making inappropriate jokes with friends! No bosses, no colleagues, no parents!!!

      Reply
  23. Curious Cat

    Eeek! I’m in my early 20s and I have a pretty hard rule against adding coworkers/bosses on social media. I still like to go out to bars on weekends & the last thing I want is my boss watching my Snapchat story from Saturday night! 100% mute WhatsApp (my coworkers & I use another chat service so we don’t have to use the company IM, but I can’t imagine us using it outside of normal working hours…) and if anyone asks why you don’t comment in it often, you can just say, “Oh sorry, I’m really bad about checking that app” (or some other variant). And you can definitely block people from seeing things like stories on Snapchat and Instagram without them knowing they’ve been blocked. Heck, I think on Facebook you can even choose from your end to opt specific people out of seeing your posts.

    Reply
  24. Tea cup gal

    I’m a manager who follows my team on instagram and now I’m all, “eek!” But…I mean in my defense both of them followed me first and 90% of the images shared were for work retreats.

    Facebook though? That’s a solid no. I’m friends with a lot of coworkers from past jobs on Facebook but I’m avoiding adding more work folks to my social life now. Boundaries and all.

    Reply
  25. Colorado

    Yeah, no way. I have a no co-worker rule on my social media. Okay, I have one co-worker but we don’t work directly together and became friends who have a lot in common. Otherwise, no way. I would unfriend them all and say you are cutting back on social media. Constant chatting after work hours!? Eeeek!

    Reply
  26. NW Mossy

    I’m a manager, and while I’m not friends with any of my directs, sometimes posts from them pop up in my feed because they allow posting to friends of friends. Said posts are innocuous photos of group outings and such, but it feels a bit weird to get this glimpse into their lives outside of work. I can’t imagine actively soliciting more of that weird feeling!

    Reply
    1. Argh!

      I supervise a narcissist who posts selfies on twitter & instagram and comments on how good looking he is. In fact, he’s rather ugly. I don’t know what magic mirror he looks into, but yech! I make a point of not clicking on anything with his name on it now.

      Reply
  27. AMT27

    Mute the WhatsApp group! If you go to the chat group settings (tap on the group name at the top) you can mute it – then just occasionally, maybe once or twice a week, pop in, see what everyone is talking about, make a short comment. It will look as if you’re present just not chatty, and you can ignore most of it.

    ***this only works if it is truly non-work topics only. If there is occasionally a work-related item in the chat then it may not be feasible to do it this way – or maybe just mute and check it once a day. Other option is if you have someone friendly around you trust just tell them you cant keep up with the group chat, and maybe if there is a work item discussed could they give you a private heads up so you know to go check it out.

    Reply
  28. Hnl123

    When I’ve ‘had to’ add coworkers and bosses, I immediately changed the settings so they were excluded from seeing almost all of my future posts. That way we were still ‘connected’ but they couldn’t see anything.

    Or…. an alternative I’ve kept up for the past two years is ‘oh I haven’t signed on much’, ‘I get so many spam friend requests I’ve stopped checking.’ I haven’t added anyone for two years at my current work with these two reasons.

    I make one exception to LinkedIn. I’m connected there to many coworkers and bosses. Figure that it may come in handy one day, and it doesn’t feel like it’s invading my personal life

    Reply
  29. Should Have Been a Mermaid

    This never ends well.

    I used to have a boss who insisted on adding everyone, and I had a firm boundary that I didn’t add anyone from work on Facebook. After I got harassed about it for about a year, I finally caved and added everyone. It was fine.

    Then I went to a job at an advertising agency where the boss literally insists on adding everyone on Facebook like their first week of work. Everyone obliges, and she claims it’s because there are “so many of you” and she doesn’t have the ability to maintain a relationship with everyone within the company. In reality, we had like 18 people and despite the fact that she was connected to everyone, she frequently forgot names of members of the staff.

    Come to find out, she added every employee to a favorites list and set up notifications on every platform so she’d know exactly when EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE POSTED ANYTHING ON ANY FORM OF SOCIAL MEDIA. It was a manipulative tool to micromanage even further — even though everyone in the agency was pulling 10-12 hour days six days a week — when she literally did nothing but stalk people’s social media and read blogs of younger influencers she was jealous of.

    Seriously, one day she called me into her office because she saw that I had posted something from a vacation and said she was surprised to see me so happy. She asked if I was planning to leave. At the time I wasn’t, but there wasn’t any effort put into trying to retain me.

    Another time, at a morning staff meeting she asked how everyone’s weekend was, and then turned to a male member of our team and said, “I saw you got a new Speedo.”

    Humiliating for everyone involved.

    It was really something else.

    I’m glad to be out of there, but I still haven’t found the balls to unfriend her.

    How effed up is that?

    Anyway, never again am I adding anyone I work with, and ESPECIALLY not my boss.

    Reply
    1. Argh!

      I have discovered the wonder of “Unfollow.” I have a few friends who have ticked me off for various reasons. After a set period of time you’ll see their posts again, which is fine because they usually come to their senses after awhile.

      Reply
      1. Michaela Westen

        I unfollow friends who post negative stuff – outraged news articles, or general negativity – and I’ve never noticed them coming back in to my feed. Some I unfollowed 2 or 3 years ago.
        Is there a setting you can set to follow again at a certain time? If so, I’m not using it. :)

        Reply
    2. OlympiasEpiriot

      NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

      GO AND UNFRIEND HER RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!

      We all give you permission. Please give yourself permission. She cannot do ANYTHING about it now.

      Reply
    3. Should Have Been a Mermaid

      Oh my gosh, I did it. I unfriended the entire senior management team.
      WHAT A FEELING.
      Thanks guys!

      Reply
    4. Iconic Bloomingdale

      I literally got a knot in my stomach reading this. Ugh.

      I have a policy of not friending my current boss, staff or colleagues on social media. I just do not want to interact with them that way.

      My boss is nothing like the one you just described. However, she has political and social views I strongly disagree with. And I really do not want to be exposed to that on FB.

      Reply
  30. Argh!

    Just make up a new gmail account and use it to set up new accounts that are for this purpose. Then share about how much you love your job and how awesome your boss is. This boss seems rather childish, so it could work.

    Reply
  31. KatieHT

    I deleted my FB account several months ago and it has been the best thing I’ve ever done. In the beginning of FB, I saw no harm in friending people I worked with but I did get bit in the @ss a couple times over stupid things. I’ve made it my policy to not friend any co-worked or managers on an social media platform, except for Linked In since that is specifically for work.

    Reply
  32. anon for this one

    I strongly urge you not to connect with anyone from work on social media. You may say something unprofessional (we all make mistakes) and be really sorry when your boss reads it on Facebook. Or when it is printed out and given to your boss by a so-called work friend who *could* have pm’d you to say, you should take that one down. It may end up in your personnel file (ask me how I know). Or worse (fortunately that has not happened to me).

    My policy now is not connecting on purely social social-media with anyone at work. That includes anyone who’s left my current employer who is connected on social media with any current colleagues. None.

    Work friends who are actually friend-friends can show me their cute pix when we get together.

    LinkedIn is ok, that’s all business. But that’s it.

    Reply
    1. Former Retail Lifer

      Same thing happened to me. A co-worker at my last job was Facebook friends with another co-worker, who screenshot and printed out something negative he said about work which I commented on. We both got in trouble. I was never friends with the other co-worker and I had been friends with the other guy since before I had that job. I’ve been really careful since then about anything work related I post. It wasn’t even MY post that got me in trouble, so I’ve learned to watch the commenting, too.

      Reply
    2. spinetingler

      Yep. Had that happen to me – either a “friend” or a friend of a friend forwarded a screenshot to my boss.

      Reply
    3. Iconic Bloomingdale

      This happened to a cousin of mine, who used to frequently post about the wretch of a boss she had and how the boss was the most miserable, evil person ever. After several months of this, my sister texted our cousin to warn her that venting on FB about her boss was perhaps not the wisest thing to do.

      Cousin responded by saying her FB page was locked down with only her closest friends (including some “work friends,”) so the boss would not have the opportunity to see it.

      That was the case until the day my cousin arrived at work and was called into HR and questioned about her anti-boss FB rants. Someone had taken screen shots of much (if not all) of my cousin’s anti-boss commentary, printed them and left the pages on the boss’ desk.

      As a result, my cousin was terminated from that job. She has another job now, but I believe she has learned her lesson. When her account is active, her posts are now quite innocuous.

      Reply
  33. Hello patriarchy

    What not to do as a boss:
    – Friend request (FB) your new direct reports
    – Act disappointed when they ignore it. Tell them.
    – Make sure to comment on a funny video at a work meeting. Praise your direct report for posting it. Video has nothing to do with the meeting and you are the one who brings it up.

    I learned my lesson. Changed my settings so friends of friends could no longer see anything.

    Reply
  34. Nope

    A friend of mine was reprimanded and nearly fired after posting pictures of herself on Facebook doing mundane things while she was recovering from surgery. A coworker wildly misconstrued what she was doing and reported her to their manager. She posted a picture of a vegetable tray she arranged in a cute pattern (her coworker said she was doing a catering job), planted flowers at her own house (coworker said “landscaping gig”), and so on. As soon as she told me what happened, I unfriended all of my current coworkers and made a personal policy that I will not connect with coworkers on social media. So not worth it.

    Reply
  35. Professor SICKamore

    I don’t understand Alison’s “(Whyyyy)” regarding the WhatsApp chat. My team has a Facebook group chat (that’s just us, NOT our boss) that we use to chat about both work-related and not-work-related topics, and to organize after-work and weekend outings. It’s great! Anyone who wants to leave can at any time, and none of us would care. Not everyone likes social media chats, and we all understand that. However, it’s been a great tool for everyone to get to know each other, and to alert the team about stuff we’re working on outside of work, like poetry readings and whatnot. It’s also great for work gossip!

    I guess my team is on the younger side, we’re all early-late 30’s, but this seems pretty normal for this day and age. I mean, most workplaces (mine included) have Slack channels, and if you put Slack on your phone, your work-wide chat will be there, all the time. There are several not-work-related sub-channels for all kinds of things. I think OP and Alison’s reaction to this is a little surprising. If you don’t want to take part, then don’t!

    Reply
    1. anon for this one

      As long as you are careful to stick with arranging outings and only saying the most inoffensive remarks, that’s fine. Just remember that you may be surprised at what others find offensive. Or you may slip up just once. That’s all it takes…

      Reply
    2. OlympiasEpiriot

      Give this enough time and, depending on how the business goes, someone, sometime will slip and this will likely get messy.

      Many, many people — especially as they get more established in their careers — find it useful to draw a bright line between work and personal. This is true in any field. I’m in a pretty staid field, but, I have a friend who is definitely in a far more colorful work environment and who has social media accounts that reflect that for her (imagine Drag Race & DJ’ing…but not exactly)…and who also likes to crochet and garden in her spare time. Conversations about how to prune espaliered peach trees DO NOT fit in with her work image!

      Just worth thinking about. Alison’s response and so many in the comments are not weird for it and I don’t think our feelings are generational. I think it may more be life stage issues.

      Reply
    3. Nanani

      Good for you, you are “normal” enough to be able to chat with random people without risk of outing yourself as anything. Your religious minority, LGBTQ+, immigrant, invisibly ill or disabled colleagues may not be.

      Reply
    4. RUKiddingMe

      “…your work-wide chat will be there, all the time.”

      This is the reason for Alison’s “Whyyyy?” A not insignificant percentage of people do not want their work/work chat/coworkers/boss/etc., etc., etc. there “all the time.”

      Reply
    5. Nope

      I think your age could be a factor in the way you feel about mixing social media and work, but that’s not necessarily a plus. The hesitance of the slightly older crowd isn’t necessarily a product of being less “with it” when it comes to technology. When I was younger, I was very cavalier about letting people have whatever information they wanted about me. I didn’t understand why “some people” were so stingy with their personal lives and information. Then I got burned a few times, and saw a few things go very badly for others due to over-sharing, and I learned that firm, healthy boundaries are necessary in every area of life. I cringe along with Allison on this one.

      Reply
    6. Kat M2

      I’m actually younger (late 20’s) and I think like Alison.

      I don’t want to share things like my own LGBTQ+ identity, my fandoms, my hobbies, or my politics at work. Even with the tamer things in my life, I know geek culture can be quite hit or miss for some folks and I’d rather keep my social relationships at work fairly superficial. In turn, it actually allows me to use my social media as more of an outlet, as I’m not constantly worried about what my boss or coworkers think.

      Friendly relationships where we recognize that yes, the other person is actually a human, not a robot? Sure. But full access to my personal life? No thanks. And I wouldn’t assume that it was purely a feature of age.

      Reply
  36. Professional Shopper

    At my current job, I said that I had a previous boss who crossed some boundaries on Facebook, so I don’t friend any current coworkers.

    When people ask why, I say, “Well, my old boss sent someone to my house to check if I was really sick because my brother tagged me in an old photo that day.” (This isn’t even the most egregious thing, I swear).

    Reply
    1. Professional Shopper

      She also called me regularly during work hours to send her gifts in a Farmville-like Facebook game. Never again.

      Reply
  37. Former Retail Lifer

    I’m friends with all of my co-workers on Facebook, which is easy to filter so they don’t see personal stuff so it’s nothing I worry about. I’m not under Twitter or Instagram under my real name, so I just told them I didn’t have an account. The big thing for all of them is Snapchat. My friends and I are out of the Snapchat demographic so none of us use it, but even if I did I wouldn’t add these co-workers. They send each other snaps All. The. Time. I don’t need their selfies on my day off. I don’t care about your clever comment about traffic on the way home. The way they use it is just way too intrusive into my personal life. Given they’re all in their 20s and they see no issue, I fear this IS the new norm for the younger generation, but I’d rather be seen as the crotchety old person who doesn’t do social media than to never be able to disengage.

    Reply
  38. SierraSkiing

    That Whatsapp chat sounds so much like one my office has called “24 hour party people.” While a coworker did add me to the chat, I am not interested in being a “24 hour party person” with my coworkers. I hardly ever check it.

    Reply
  39. SKA

    Re: Whtasapp – delete it from your phone and just access the web app on your work computer. Should make it easy to ignore except during working hours.

    I have a strict “no coworkers on Facebook” policy, whose only exception was when my old job hired a college classmate of mine who I was already friends with. Thankfully, so far, no one has questioned this when I’ve ignored their requests.

    Reply
  40. ENFP in Texas

    I don’t connect with anyone I currently work with on social media. If we’re not friends in the real world, we’re not friends on the ‘net. Just because I work with/for someone doesn’t mean we are friends.

    Reply
  41. Ann Perkins

    I’d just leave the request sitting there–neither decline nor accept, then change your privacy settings so you’re unsearchable.

    My former boss loved being social media pals with her employees. Luckily I’m pretty hard to find. Apparently she’d make posts mocking people who had applied to work for her. She’d make fun of their resumes, their experience levels, salary requests, etc. She’d even bring resumes to meetings just to make fun of them there.

    Reply
  42. BePositive

    If you don’t want to be added, you don’t have to. I just ignore the requests and I’m open to why.

    99% of people are good with that

    But the 1%

    But I get t some may be sensitive and if I get pushed, I do it the passive aggressive way. Just having an account just for them on Facebook etc and I NEVER interact I there and put WhatsApp on mute. I tell people I can’t focus with the beeping and when I read there’s 1000 missed messages I just say sorry missed it because I got busy with work and life

    Reply
  43. Barbara

    Tell them you aren’t a technology slave and you don’t have time to waste in Whattsapp or social media. You are too busy having real interactions and taking care of your kids. There are so many parents buried in their phone or tablet while their children try to get their attention.
    You could even buy one of these old fashion phone without access to Internet so you can say you can’t download WhatsApp…

    Reply
  44. theschnauzer

    Since you have kids, that could actually be a decent cop-out. “When I’m at home, I want to spend as much quality time as I can with my children” is a little harder to disregard than “I just want to relax and disconnect, okay???????” You shouldn’t need to explain yourself, but that could be a way to gracefully bow out.

    Reply
  45. OlympiasEpiriot

    And this is literally why I only use pseudonyms everywhere I go except LinkedIn.

    If I am asked for my social media (which hasn’t happened yet), I plan on responding that I do not use any.

    As far as advice, there’s lots of good tips for managing FB in these comments. Pull back a little and as long as you are friendly, she is unlikely to take any offense. You ARE entitled to turn off!

    :-)

    Reply
  46. Lady Blerd

    After unfriending a former underling in a rash decision, I have finally taken a hard line when it comes to friending people on FB, especially those I supervise. It was useful to have them friended as to have a work conversation for things like advising everyone in our section they wouldn’t be coming in but now I just make do with one on one text messages. I also downgraded the “friendship” level of the work acquaintances that I already added.

    Reply
  47. Violaine

    At my last job, almost my entire team was connected on Facebook. That job also had management with massive boundary issues. The coworkers were fine.

    At my current job, I didn’t friend anyone on social media until I announced my departure recently. I knew many of them were connected, and Facebook is a massive creeper because it was suggesting them as friends for me long before I ever did. I don’t list my workplace on there, either.

    At my new prospective employer, the manager straight-up told me that she friends her subordinates to see what they are doing when they call off. I don’t really care – I’m in my late 30s, and when I call off, it’s legit – but this lack of boundaries often goes with government (particularly military-supporting) jobs. I’m debating how I want to handle that, should it arise. That manager would not be onsite with me, so I’m not certain that it matters that much. It’s definitely something to consider.

    This post is very timely for me. Thanks, OP.

    Reply
  48. CollegePanda

    My friends’ boss started adding them on Snapchat near the end of my last job, sending them all into various stages of panic.

    For context: We were all high school seniors doing admin-type internships through our schools at [large, international company], and there was an age gap between us and supervisor (supervisor’s kids are probably our age or a bit older).

    Anyway, supervisor decided that she was going to make learn how to use Snapchat and made an account. She then started adding her direct reports (my work friends) one by one through phone number. The rest of them were tipped off when one of the first people added sent a screenshot warning us to the group chat we (the students) had created to talk about work. Everyone instantly started freaking out for obvious reasons, and someone even sent instructions on how to make yourself unsearchable by phone. It was kind of weird, since one of the points of the program was to learn professional norms, and that’s very much an overreach. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry because I don’t use my phone number for social media, and I only give out my “clean” email for work related things (I also had a completely different supervisor).

    It’s virtually impossible to find my social media, even though I’m pretty active on it. I have a common first name and don’t use my last name except on Facebook, where my profile looks like something that was set up then forgotten about if you’re not my friend (no profile picture, generic cover pic that has never been changed, absolutely no info visible, and I kept the setting where people can’t friend me). On Instagram, I have let requests sit for months to even a year if I know who the person is but not well. My philosophy is that social media is for close friends, and if I am asked about it by someone I don’t want to give that access to, then I just say that I don’t have an account.

    Reply
  49. K.A.

    I already plan to block all managers before my first day at my next job. That way they won’t see me.

    Also, claiming to only have family members as social media friends is an option. For some people, that’s true.

    Reply
  50. ReBecCa from TriBeCa

    “My social media is the place where I tend to unwind AFTER I am done with my workday. If you have to get a hold of me after hours you can always text/email me.” But thanks for the invites.

    Reply
  51. MissDissplaced

    This is my rule for social media & bosses. Connect on LinkedIn and ONLY LinkedIn and then use LinkedIn strictly for professional purposes.
    Keep all your other channels private. If you manager pushes for more, you state that you keep your Facebook, etc., for family and friends.
    If you continue to get pushback, or need to use these to do your job, create a new account under your work email.
    We’re all entitled to our privacy away from work.

    Reply
    1. I See Real People

      I did that as well in my last job. I saw the crazy in one of them after a couple of weeks in, and I decided that I just didn’t want the hassle.

      Reply
    2. Lisa

      That’s what I do, including my coworkers. I really prefer them to just know the “work” me, rather than the real me. If they want to connect, they can go to LinkedIn.

      Reply
  52. Anna

    Ugh, this sounds awful. I’ve elected to not use my full name on social media, just go by my first and middle name with places like Twitter and Instagram (which luckily, you really can’t search people out by) and so far, no one has friended me on Facebook. If anyone does, I plan on saying, that I don’t connect with coworkers (I’ve vocalized this at work anyways). Lots of my coworkers spend a lot of time with each other outside of work and will follow each other on social media, but then my office is largely not really all that professional (very casual and even sometimes crass, crude and downright unprofessional in my opinion, so it isn’t a surprise they’re comfortable with that). As for me, I need my work boundaries. How can I complain about a bad day at work on Facebook if everyone has friended me? LOL.

    Reply
  53. Ewalker

    I haven’t had my boss try to friend request me on facebook or anything, but I’ve had people who I interact with on a professional level try to friend me. What I do is accept their request and then add them to the “restricted” list so they can only see whatever I choose to make public. Nobody has ever asked me about why I do that so I assume the realize it’s me trying to create a professional barrier.

    I’ve also let most of my coworkers know that I don’t really accept friend requests or that I post some hard opinions on there that could cause issues. I’m political and pretty vocal about my views outside of work. I know lots of people I work with who support Trump and lots of propaganda, but I don’t want to know who. I just want to do my job and not wonder if the person next to me is a decent human being or not, ya know?

    There’s nothing wrong in not accepting their request but if you’re a little worried about it, just control what they can/can’t see on your profile.

    Reply
  54. Lisa

    To combat this, I block my bosses and coworkers on my social media before we even get close. Typically the first day.

    Reply
  55. Martleby

    I had similar experiences on Twitter & Instagram of people following me who I really didn’t want to follow me, but at the same time I really didn’t want to block them or set my profile to private, as that would be too obvious (especially on twitter as it actually says “you are blocked from seeing this account).

    I discovered ‘soft-blocking’ – and it’s such a godsend (unless someone is weirdly persistent, and then they look far more inappropriate) – it’s where you block someone on Twitter/Instagram, and then immediately unblock them. This removes their follow of you, but you don’t disappear so they won’t feel personally affronted (which some people do). They then have to deliberately look to follow you again to notice that they aren’t following you, which most people are not persistent enough to do. Also it just looks like a glitch, so it’s easy to deny any knowledge of!

    Reply
  56. Out of there now

    My former boss sent me a friend request and I denied it. I post very little on Facebook, so I wouldn’t mind if he saw it, but I didn’t want to see him posting all the fun he was having while we worked hard to keep his business afloat.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site's commenting rules.
You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS