I don’t want to friend my coworkers on Facebook

A reader writes:

I am new the workforce. I’m working at  a small, family-owned and -operated firm. Everyone who works there, besides me and another new hire (we’ll call her Amanda), are either relatives or very close family friends. About a week after Amanda started, she proceeded to friend everyone in the office on Facebook. Obviously everyone else was already connected, but she did not add me because my privacy settings make finding me very difficult. No one else in the office has mentioned anything about this, and I assumed I was being professional by keeping work and personal life separate. My privacy settings don’t mean I have anything to hide; I just don’t like to broadcast everything I post to the entire world.

Anyway, this week Amanda found me on Facebook since I had “liked” our company page when I first started (note to self: don’t like company pages!) and sent me a friend request from her personal page.

I am nervous that denying her request and explaining to her that I like to keep work and home life separate will not go over well, and will be seen as me not fitting in to the culture that my company is trying to create, where everyone is very close. Should I just accept her request, or do you have any other suggestions how to handle this?

You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).

{ 109 comments… read them below }

  1. BetsyTacy*

    I am 110% on board with Alison’s answers. I’ll add to the letter writer that you shouldn’t really overthink this. A simple answer like, ‘Oh, I like to keep business and personal separate,’ is usually enough. If she gives you any trouble, this is fully under the heading of, ‘this is a her problem, not a me problem.’

    1. BRR*

      Yeah I agree about simple. Don’t go on and on. I’d personally not accept or deny and leave her in “purgatory” and say you don’t check that much if you can get away with it. She also might not notice that you haven’t acted on her friend request.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I think the only time I would have noticed if someone didn’t accept my friend request was if it was a long-lost friend I was really excited to reconnect with. Or a crush. :-)

        1. BRR*

          Exactly. I think it looks better that it’s pending vs sending one and seeing you can send it again (aka it was denied).

      2. adonday veeah*

        I have like a GAZILLION people lingering in purgatory, and nobody’s ever come back to me and said, “Hey, about my friend request…”

        1. Artemesia*

          Me too. I have lots of ex students, ex co-workers and random acquaintances who have asked to friend me and I just keep my connection list small– a few close friends and family. The only time it was every a problem is that my DIL asked to friend me back when she was dating my son and I just didn’t notice the request — I don’t pay much attention to the friend request list — and of course I wanted to add her once my son mentioned I was ignoring the request.

        2. Sigrid*

          Oh yeah. The majority of people — almost all classmates — who send me a friend request just remain unanswered. No one’s ever brought it up.

      3. Jenifer*

        I don’t recommend this option….if they sit in purgatory for too long, they can somehow “follow” you, and I have no idea how to drop them. Beware!

    2. Lanya (aka Camp Director Kim)*

      Yep. I’ve been in the same situation, and my response is always the same. I just nicely explain that I don’t add work friends on Facebook. Nobody has ever had a problem with that. If they think I’m weird because of it, that’s their problem.

      1. Hotstreak*

        I do that too, and I like to add them on LinkedIn at the same time (if I haven’t already).

    3. MaryMary*

      I say, “oh, I use LinkedIn for professional contacts.” I’ve never had anyone get upset

  2. manybellsdown*

    If you feel like you have to add someone to Facebook, you can set them to “restricted”. This means they can only see posts you make public (the little globe icon under your name). Anything you’ve set to “friends” they won’t see. Then you just make the default setting for your posts “friends”.

    I’ve done this with a couple relatives, who I can’t really unfriend but don’t want commenting negatively on all my posts. I find it the easiest way around that.

    1. Three Thousand*

      I wish I had known that before I unfriended a couple of people whose nonsense I was getting tired of and didn’t want to have to keep explicitly excluding from my posts.

      I have the sense that Facebook has improved their privacy settings, so that it’s much clearer now than it was 2-3 years ago how to make a post “public” or “friends-only” and more likely that those designations are actually followed.

      1. manybellsdown*

        I keep a close eye on it, because sometimes they change it and things appear that you didn’t want to appear. On your profile page, on the top right, there’s an ellipsis (…). Clicking that will give you the “view as” option, and you can see what’s appearing publicly and what specific people on your list are able to see.

    2. Squirrel*

      Unfortunately they can still still any other changes you make to your profile, like profile/cover picture changes, or life events. And they may figure it out pretty quickly when they visit your page and it’s completely blank except for your profile and cover photos.

      1. Emily K*

        They can also see your RSVP to any events that have a public privacy setting.

        I had the unsettling experience once of RSVPing to a concert event page and then moments later seeing, “Person You Don’t Know Very Well likes that you’re going to Concert Event.” I wouldn’t care if someone who was already invited to that event could see me on the list and knew I’d be there, but I don’t need Facebook helping people stalk me by broadcasting to my entire friends list’s news feeds where I’m going to be and when every time I join an event.

        I no longer RSVP to any events with a public privacy setting even if I intend to go.

    3. Chocolate lover*

      I have unfriended relatives. And I’ve refused to friend others. No qualms ;) The same when other (rare) other people occasionally try to “persuade” me.

      1. the gold digger*

        I blocked my husband on facebook a few years ago when he was particularly rowdy politically. I told him I had to listen to his political rants in person; I didn’t also want them online. He finally set up a political list for posting.

        Years ago, I had blocked my husband’s mother, may she rest in peace, and I also blocked my husband’s half brother, who is enough of a jerk in person and in emails that I do not want to deal with him in any other venue. I don’t know why he thinks we are friends. We are not.

        I am a big fan of keeping the toxic out of your life whenever you can.

        1. the gold digger*

          Just saw what my husband’s half brother Ted posted on facebook (my husband had to show it to me because I have Ted blocked) about the Mark Knopfler concert we attended recently.

          Primo and I really enjoyed the concert and his friends who commented reminisced about seeing Dire Straits years ago and everyone was having a big ol’ happy We Love Dire Straits Fest.

          Ted wrote one word: “Pedestrian.”

          The only good thing about his being such a jerk is that it helps me be sure that he is the problem here, not me.

      2. manybellsdown*

        As is usually the case, it’s the relatives who loudly proclaim that they “can’t stand Facebook drama” who would make the biggest fuss if they discovered they’d been unfriended. I’d rather not deal with that when I can just restrict and unfollow.

        1. Chocolate lover*

          In my case, I have almost no connections to family outside my immediate family, so if they wanted to make a stink, I’d never even hear about it. So I’m fortunate that way.

      3. beboy111*

        why i love my relatives i talk to them on telegram and instagram and snap chat and i try to add as many people i have 310 friends not enough . sort of a competition for me. Yahoo i add co workers because maybe i will fall in love with them one day . I add everyone even from other countries unless i have a issue with them them i will block later .

    4. Becky B*

      I have various levels of Friendslists that I have separated people into, and choose which group or groups to post to.

    5. Ann*

      As an FYI — if you do add one coworker, and they are friends with your other coworkers, then depending on their Privacy settings everyone you work with might see you are now FB friends, prompting additional friend requests.

  3. Ad Astra*

    I don’t care much for Facebook but I need it in order to do my job and communicate with my annoying family, so I haven’t deactivated my account. I rarely post anything, and when I do it’s a photo of my dog or something about sports. A lot of people at my company like to add each other on Facebook, so I’ve just sort of rolled with it.

    But boy am I glad that most of my coworkers aren’t on Twitter.

  4. matcha123*

    The first day at my old job, my supervisor stood next to me as he directed me to sign into facebook and friend everyone in the company that had a facebook page. The reasoning was that “people communicate through facebook.” “People” being the CEO and a handful of other people only, because if I were using the chat function on facebook, I know I would have been chewed out.
    After making 80-100 new “friends,” I created a group, placed all of their names in it, and then blocked it from 90% of my posts. I don’t work there anymore, but I still check my settings to make sure that group can’t see anything I don’t want it to see and I’ve subsequently added other “troublesome” friends to that group.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      First – it’s awful that your CEO would require that. I know hindsight is 20/20 but if anyone finds themselves in this situation again, I’d create a brand new Facebook account just for work and then, you know, never go on it.

      But also for the rest of your comment, this is what I do as well. I don’t have any of my current coworkers on FB, but I do have former coworkers and a few people that I felt obligated to add (but don’t really actually want to interact with) and I’ve just put them in a group that I block from most of my posts and I also hide theirs. The only exceptions will be when I share an interesting article or something that I think would relate somewhat to work, I’ll unhide them from those posts. But that be all!

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      For the former coworkers, I’d guess you can safely just quietly unfriend them. If you’re already blocking them from seeing most of your posts, and you have no relationship with them outside of Facebook, they probably won’t notice at all.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d dump that whole list. The problem with facebook is that things change all the time and it is easy to have things you don’t want to broadcast somehow end up more public than you would like. Since you don’t work there — I’d go unfriend the whole group.

  5. Daisy Steiner*

    I worked with someone who didn’t like to add people she worked with on FB. She was so straightforward about it, like a blanket policy “Oh, I don’t add anyone I work with.”, that is was pretty much impossible to take offence. She was still plenty friendly and cheerful in real life!

    1. The Toxic Avenger*

      I am like that – I just tell people straight up that I don’t FB friend people I work with.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      That’s how my new coworker is. She is just very straightforward about the fact that she doesn’t friend coworkers on Facebook, but that she does add them after they are no longer coworkers. I had sent her a friend request after we’d been working together for awhile and seemed to be hitting it off.

      I come from an office where nearly everyone is friends on Facebook (I’m still friends with all my old university department coworkers and all the people at my former university department head’s private office, and nearly all the people from both those jobs are also Facebook friends with each other). So I’m accustomed to the intertwining of work and social, and her stance and the way she phrased it still didn’t seem odd or off-putting to me, because she was so matter-of-fact about it. I overheard her say the same thing to another co-worker, who is in a position of authority over her, so I know it truly is a hard-and-fast rule with her.

    3. sam*

      I’m exactly like this – and so is pretty much everyone I work with. We’ll actually walk into each other’s offices to show each other things we (or others) have posted on facebook because we are not facebook friends with each other. Because we will not “facebook friend” current co-workers as a blanket rule, even though we are perfectly friendly with each other and share funny things in person.

      One time, years ago, I had an office admin who kept trying to friend me on FB despite my rule. I finally said to her that I didn’t want to put her in the position of ever having to lie to our (common) boss about my whereabouts (or vice versa). She finally got it. Not that I ever actually played hookey from work or anything, but just the theoretical.

      I’ll friend former colleagues that I was actually friends with.

    4. Azalea*

      That’s my policy. I’ll friend someone if they leave the company – I’ve had several co-workers I liked who have since moved on and I want to keep in touch with. But, if I actively work with someone, I don’t friend them.

    5. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

      This is my MO as well.
      Nobody has ever given me grief over it — even in offices where people talk all day long about seeing each other on FB.

    6. Former Borders Refugee*

      That’s my policy, and it’s almost never been an issue. I’ll friend people after we’re no longer co-workers, but while we work together? Nope.

    7. Artemesia*

      Exactly. I never do sales parties; never. So when someone asks me to the makeup or ridiculously overpriced cookware ‘party’ I just say ‘oh I never do sales parties.’ No one ever pushes back — there is something about a blanket policy: ‘oh, I never lend my car’, ‘oh we just never lend our things’, ‘oh I never do sales parties’, ‘oh we never do political signs in the yard’ etc etc that tends to go over quickly and cleanly. ‘Oh, I never friend work colleagues on facebook; I used linked in for that’ will work equally cleanly (except with a boss who forces it and then you do what you must)

  6. Anonathon*

    I rarely post on Facebook and I still won’t friend anyone with whom I currently work — not happening. If someone send me a request, I just ignore it. This maybe came up once and I said something like, “You’re awesome and I’m happy to accept your request when one of us is no longer in this office.” It was a total non-thing.

  7. EuropeanRedhead*

    #3. This is exactly what I do. Never ever add people from work to my personal Facebook. I befriended several former coworkers from each job I worked at AFTER I left the workplace and wanted to stay in touch, but never while I worked there.

  8. Anonymous Educator*

    I’m not really that strict about not friending co-workers on social media, but I have never done it right away. If I’m at a job for 1.5 to 2 years and there are certain co-workers I’ve become friendly with, I’ll accept Facebook requests and then immediately dump them into a special group that I don’t want to see most of my posts. I don’t think it’s cold or mean in any way to want to separate out professional and personal lives, and I’ve never gotten pushback on it.

  9. AnonPi*

    I definitely don’t recommend it for anyone. I’m so not much for FB, I mainly use to follow info/forum type discussions for a few groups. However I friended one (and only one) coworker and regret it (we get on ok at work, but well, I found many of her posts derogatory and ended up unfollowing her posts and avoid looking at her page). I’m somewhat uncomfortable with her now knowing some of those things.

    Also my team leader was a co-worker (senior to the rest of us, but still), and became friends with several people on FB. However now that she’s a team leader and in a supervisory role, she’s commented that she really should not read FB posts of people she works with, because of what some people post on FB and feeling like she may have to report something or if she’s asked by someone higher up she’d have to report stuff she’s seen. For instance someone calling in to take the day off for not feeling well, and they post on face book they were out all night the night before – hence they’re not really sick, just tired or possibly hungover. Or the call in sick and take the day to go shopping and post what they bought on FB, etc etc. She’s not done anything yet, but wouldn’t surprise me if it plays out in the future.

    And there’s been other notorious instances of people getting fired for what they post on FB, twitter, etc, so just not a good idea to friend each other on social media. Make sure what you post is either private, or not something you mind getting out – IMO just assume anything you put online has the potential for being shared, private or not.

    1. Neruda*

      I’m in the position where I started at a job and was friends with a lot of my peers. Fast forward 18 months and I’m now a member of leadership. I kept the fb settings the same (I rarely use Facebook) and about a year of being in the leadership position I emailed my all my work FB friends individually kindly noting that I think it’s more fair for both parties if we are not FB friends. As far as I know there was no fallout and some people responded saying they understood. It was fine. I didn’t do it straight away as I thought that might have looked a bit ‘Bam! I’m your boss! Dumping you from FB ASAP!’

  10. 2horseygirls*

    I don’t even list where I have worked for the past 7.5 years on my Facebook profile. After I was scolded (via email from two bosses up to everyone in the institution) for liking a photo that two co-workers posted of the two of them . . . well, literally under one of the buses ;) . . . , I figured I didn’t really want to be associated with them anyway. I have FB friended less than a dozen people that work here, and it’s only those that I do things with outside of work.

    I lovelovelove my Restricted list! They only see the things I make public, which is less than 1% of my posts. Since so few of my posts are Public, people just naturally assume I am not on FB that much. :)

    1. 2horseygirls*

      And honestly . . . there are people who have unfriended me that I didn’t even realize until months later, when it occurred to me I hadn’t seen anything from them in a while. Meh . . . bygones – life is way too short to get all twisted up about it. No one I really talk to IRL anyway.

      I went to college with someone that eventually, we just drifted apart. It happens. Mutual friends are FB friends with her; on one back-in-the-day post I shared, she went absolutely BSC on the post. It was a really great post, but I ended up deleting it, because she just kept reposting her diatribe when I deleted her comments. Obsess much? sigh . . .

  11. Lisa*

    So I work with a guy that I have known for 10 years – John. When other coworkers ask if I am on Facebook, I say yes – but I only have like 17 friends. Then I mention John. “It’s not personal, I just have an extremely long friending-consideration policy. John’s still on the waiting list after 10 years, but he’s hoping for a decision by summer 2018. Hell it took me 5 years to friend my dad. ” People laugh, think I am funny, comment on me not friending my dad as nothing to do with Facebook. The conversation shifts and boom, I am not friending anyone from work.

  12. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    OP – I agree with Alison and want to throw out one more scenario. Accept the friend request, but block her from being able to see any of your posts. Then in a month or so delete her as a friend. That way she’ll get the alert that you accepted her friend request but friends are not alerted when you delete them. There’s almost 0.1% chance she notices you deleted her but a good chance she’ll notice if you don’t accept. On the small chance she does notice you are no longer friends, you can just say “I’ve noticed a lot of my friends have dropped off my list somehow. So weird.”

    1. Kyrielle*

      I’d be cautious about this – some people run add-ons such as FB Purity (which I use to improve my wall), and that and others will tell you the next time you access the site if a friend has disappeared off your list. Either they unfriended you or they deleted their profile, and you can follow the link to see if they deleted the profile.

      It’s silly, in my opinion, and not a feature I really want…but other people may be using it.

    2. Oryx*

      That seems so….I don’t know, childish. Why can’t you just not accept the friend request and explain you don’t friend co-workers?

  13. Somov*

    I’ve always strictly enforced the separation. No coworkers on fb EVER! I’ve figured out that if I crack a few jokes about it it goes over much better. I also like the “ignore this request” tactic and if questioned, you can just say, “Oh, I’m never on there anyway. I just use it to stay in touch with my mom (or whoever.)”

  14. Golden Yeti*

    I don’t recommend it, if it can be avoided. It’s hard to tell at the beginning how you’ll feel about a job at the end. And while you shouldn’t be posting things like, “I hate my job,” if you don’t put up boundaries, it still sets you up to have to maintain an even higher level of awareness about what you’re posting.

    I recently had to increase my Facebook restrictions even more because a boss commented on a video I had posted about 5 years ago, and the next day, also asked me about it at work. I somehow found that twice as creepy and just super uncomfortable, because it tells me she was doing some serious profile digging for no apparent reason. She is now on restricted.

    Same with LinkedIn; you can’t really freely say you’re looking for a new opportunity if the current opportunity can read it.

    The conclusion I have come to is it’s best to wait until you’re out of the job to decide if you want to share your personal life with bosses and colleagues.

    1. SherryD*

      Wow, a coworker (especially a boss!) commenting on a Facebook post from five years ago would make me really uncomfortable. And you’d think they’d have the sense to be less obvious about their snooping.

      1. Golden Yeti*

        Exactly! And it got even creepier. The video in question was a presentation I was giving in a class I was taking at the time (subject matter completely personal and unrelated to the job). Boss asked if I still did those, and when I said no, wanted to know why not (?!?!).

        I’m sorry, but when you are not a personal friend and are nagging me about maintaining specific personal interests from 5 years ago, ya gots to go. If I really want your opinion on my personal life, I will ask.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I can see the other side of this, though, especially after this happened right after Golden Yeti accepted the boss’s friend request. I don’t usually go to people’s profiles, but may when we first connect – and if GY’s settings were locked down pretty tightly, a post from five years ago might still have been only the third or fourth post on the page that was visible to the boss.

        Her asking about it the next day at work is kinda weird, though.

        1. Golden Yeti*

          I definitely see what you’re saying, but when this happened, I had already had the boss on my friend list for a few years…and even though I’m my no means a regular poster, I had posted enough that it either wouldn’t have shown up on the home page, or you would have had to scroll waaaay down to see it.

          It was certainly a good lesson for me in setting preventative boundaries, especially at work.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Also, at $LastJob I had a few coworkers friended – which I was fine with, because seriously, my FB feed is kid pictures and sunset photographs and recipe links, mostly, because I am Boring on FB – but we would sometimes use FB messenger, and sometimes briefly discuss work.

      I stopped that right quick when I discovered that at least one of those people logged in and read it *from their work computer*. Good grief.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, I don’t want to transact business via Facebook; that’s where I go to relax. There was one time when, somehow, a professor, the associate dean, and I all ended up discussing the planning of some event through Facebook messenger instead of email. I’m still not sure how that happened? Maybe one of us thought we were on our work IM and accidentally clicked Messenger instead? But once that conversation thread wrapped up, we never did it again.

  15. Switcher*

    I always just tell people that I only add those who I consider friends, if they want to just connect themselves to me for future reference then that is what my LinkedIn is for.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Ditto. I have some semi-crunchy leanings which may seem weird to people who are super mainstream and not very tolerant. I don’t need that to influence their view of my job performance, which has nothing to do with whether I use paper towels or bamboo towels to clean my kitchen.

  16. Apollo Warbucks*

    An Australian employment tribunal or court (I forget which) just ruled that unfriending someone in Facebook could be classed as work place bulling.

      1. Mike C.*

        I was going to say, usually headlines like there exclude the greater context of what’s going on.

  17. MashaKasha*

    It is absolutely perfectly normal to have a policy of not adding coworkers on Facebook.

    At OldJob, years ago, we all got a bit Facebook-happy and everyone added everyone else. I think I had 50 FB friends at one point that were coworkers. I still work with some of those people, report to some of them and it’s becoming a huge PITA as old work friendships are cooling off and we’re all becoming older and more private. Also as we all move to more senior positions where we might not want to give our coworkers a window into our personal lives, where they might see something they’ll deem unprofessional. I recently moved every one of them, their close family and close friends, to a restricted list. Some of these people used to be good friends, but work is work. The time has come when this needed to be done. TBH I now think none of us should’ve added each other in the first place all those years ago. We had one woman at OldJob who turned down every FB invite, each time explaining that she never adds coworkers on FB. We should’ve all done the same.

    1. Searching*

      Yes, in my “early” FB days I added several coworkers too, from another department that I used to work somewhat closely with (they were a really fun bunch). Then another coworker mentioned that she sends all coworkers to LinkedIn and keeps FB completely separate from work. Since then, I’ve done the same. I explain to current coworkers that I keep FB only for non-work friends and family. I did keep those few early coworker friends on under the “grandfather” rule, but decline everyone else from work. I don’t even mention my employer in my profile (don’t have much of anything in my profile really) and have tightened down how people can find me (only through mutual friends).

      My employer encourages employees to be active on FB and to like the company FB page etc. No thanks. I’ll follow our company on LinkedIn but not on FB.

  18. too lazy to log in*

    Interestingly, the only coworkers who have ever asked to add me to facebook are coworkers much older than me. Everyone I know in my age range (older end of the millennial group) either doesn’t have an account anymore (myself included), doesn’t use it frequently, or never asks to add coworkers. They’re more likely to ask about Instagram….which I think is in the same category, but I have way more leniency about letting someone look at my pictures of dogs and food and landscapes than anything I would post on Twitter.

    I did have one older former coworker who thought everyone at work should be be friends on facebook because that was the “in” thing with millennials (even though I think a lot of millennials have moved on and a lot of the younger generation doesn’t even use FB).

    But, OP, you can always just say, “I don’t friend coworkers on FB, but I’m happy to add you on LinkedIn” if you think she might react negatively. I’ve used LinkedIn as a way to keep in touch with coworkers I wouldn’t friend on other social media platforms. It’s really the only reason why I use LinkedIn.

    1. MashaKasha*

      I’m at the point where I mostly use my FB to keep in touch with my out-of-state friends, to read the news (I’ve added all my newspapers and magazines to my feed), to follow the venues/bands I frequent/like, etc. I’m a member of a few closed groups as well (one is also out-of-state friends, one is a foodies group where we exchange recipes and restaurant tips etc). My millennial kid seems to be using his FB for pretty much the same thing and to promote some of the more creative stuff he’s doing (like apparently he’s now in a band and their first show is next week.)

      A few people I know who are business owners maintain FB pages for their businesses.

      It’s still a useful medium, but definitely past the “fun and games” stage. And I really don’t want my coworkers to know all about which media outlets I read, which articles I like, which bands I follow, etc. because the conclusions about my religious/political views, some of the things I do on my spare time, etc are all too easy to make when someone is exposed to that information in my feed. I also sure as hell don’t want to see, or comment on, my coworkers’ FB comments about other coworkers, which has happened in the past. (Why they do it, I have no idea.)

    2. Noah*

      Agreed, I don’t know if I’m in just the right age group or what (also older millennial), but most of my friends are rarely on Facebook. Instagram/Twitter seems to be far more popular, with Instagram by far leading. Most of us have a Facebook page, but rarely use it for anything.

  19. kirsten*

    I deleted my facebook this past January after having it for 10 years (I was in college when it came out.) Reasons like this letter is what prompted me to do it. I love not having it and don’t think I’ll ever go back.

  20. mdv*

    I’m a little disappointed to discover that I can no longer read Alison’s links to INC. It is asking me to sign up for an account. Darn!

    1. Almond Milk Latte*

      She mentioned the other day that it might be ’cause you have adblock on. I have adblock on but I can see them, so YMMV.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, if you’re outside the U.S. or using an ad blocker, Inc. may ask you to register in order to read more than one article there. That’s because they otherwise aren’t able to earn any revenue from those page views (which they depend on to support what they do).

  21. Window Seat Anon*

    Alison’s advice is right on.

    Personally, I’m so sick and tired of Facebook. I’d delete mine in a heartbeat if I didn’t have so many out of state/country friends and family that it’s truly the easiest way to connect with them. Le sigh.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I keep thinking that myself, especially with election season coming up, but I follow a couple of pages on there that I really like. One is a Van Gogh page that posts art every day, and the other post old photos of London. The comments on that one have been good research for Secret Book and one of the commenters even helped me with it and we friended each other. :) Plus, my meetup group has a page and we seem to have more interaction there than in Meetup.com (and have friended each other). So it’s still pretty useful to me.

  22. Almond Milk Latte*

    I keep workish people on a Restricted list. They only get to see vacation sunsets and cat pictures. I friended a coworker pal who ended up being my boss, and it was hard to respect him after I knew about his wackadoo political beliefs. (He prolly felt mine were pretty wackadoo, too, so we’re even.)

  23. The Optimizer*

    I never had any co-workers as friends on FB until we all got laid off, then I had a select few I wanted to keep in touch with but most of those are on Restricted access and I suspect I am restricted from their perspective as well. One in particular, our former CEO who retired a few years before the office closed specifically so several of us could stay employed a while longer, is an absolute delight to interact with via FB. I am happy that we are still in touch and that I can use him as a valuable reference.
    If I did get friended by someone I work work with now, I’d likely just restrict them. I do make it hard for people to find me – I have a common name, my job is listed as Director of TPS Operations at Initech and my former employer is Dunder-Mifflin.
    That said, I now work with my cousin at my current job and I’m her supervisor, so I can’t exactly unfriend her. It has taught me to not post much of anything about work. I only wish she would do the same!

  24. Dana*

    Everyone I work with is all friends on facebook and instagram with each other. I felt pretty left out for the first couple months but then I thought it over and decided it’s better this way. About a year after I started, one coworker I talk to a couple times a week friended me. I ignored it. He’s never ever brought it up, even though they all talk about people’s facebooks from time to time.

  25. Boston admin*

    Thanks for answering this! I have a request lingering in my inbox from someone who is in one of my grad school classes, who also works in the department of the program im studying. I also work at University. I really don’t want him having access to my personal life, undergrad pics, infrequent but present raunchy humor. I may just let it linger or once i figure out privacy settings to do that.

    I feel bad but think he is crossing a boundary in his professional capacity in friending me.

  26. Isben Takes Tea*

    Just adding to the chorus of this is my policy, and it’s not been received as a big deal. In fact, the #1 response to my “Sorry, nothing personal, but I don’t add anyone I work with on Facebook” is “That’s a really smart idea, actually.” I do occasionally friend people that have left, though I’m now hesitating to do that because they are friends with current coworkers, and the who-can-see-when-you-comment-on-what is confusing (at least to me).

    I’ve also taken off any official word about where I work from my profile. It has alleviated all kinds of stress. It’s not that I badmouth or get specific about work, but I don’t want to have to stress about who might see what.

  27. Mike C.*

    *twirls hipster mustache*
    Back in my day, it was called “The Facebook” and was invitation only!

    Ok for reals, seriously don’t sweat this. I have a few work friends on mine, but it’s really a personal choice! There are good reasons not to, and folks who are friending work friends on FB should understand this.

  28. DavidR*

    I had a co-worker who sent friend requests to every one she met. Personal and professionally.
    She had a habit of mentioning things over lunch that she had observed on other ppl’s Facebook profiles, once embarrassing a vendor exec who had dropped by.

    I would decline every request without comment. She would never ask me why I hadn’t accepted.

    I still receive FB requests from her. She hasn’t worked her in 3 years and we haven’t once spoken in that time.

  29. DavidR*

    Something else occurred to me.

    One of the house keeping staff found my blog. He thought it was hilarious and as he enjoys chatting with me while he cleans my office he sent me a friend request which I accepted.

    Other cleaning staff followed suit and would often comment on my humorous random wall and blog posts.

    One made specific mention of my social justice posts where I call out people for bigotry and intolerance (especially of the poor). He liked the fact that I would take the time to dispel hoaxes and misconceptions about how our refugee and welfare systems work.

    Then, about a month ago this same individual starts sharing memes complaining about refugees and welfare recipients….


  30. mockingbird2081*

    This comes up in the small company I work for. I just tell people I don’t friend people I work with but if there ever comes a time when I leave or they leave we will can be friends at Facebook. I just tell them it is my personal rule as it keeps things separate.

  31. JM*

    I learned this one the hard way. I worked at a small office several years ago and we all friended each other — including the boss. One day, the boss gave everyone free concert tickets that he received as part of an “in kind” payment from the concert vendor. My husband and I had a newborn baby and couldn’t make the concert, so I posted the tickets for sale on FB. A friend gladly bought them (for the face value), but my boss saw the post and freaked out – he claimed the concert vendor would have cut his business ties with us because I sold the gifted tickets.

    I wasn’t clever enough at the time to argue that there was no way the concert vendor could have known I hadn’t purchased the tickets myself, but anyway, all this resulted in me discreetly unfriending every coworker, and never friending coworkers at any job since.

  32. JC*

    I agree with Alison’s suggestions, but I would disagree that being friends with your coworkers on facebook isn’t a normal thing. I’m facebook friends with many colleagues from my current and past job, of a variety of ages. I don’t think there’s anything abnormal about having a social or social media relationship with colleagues.

    That said, I wouldn’t bat an eye at it if you ignored my friend request (I might not notice, as Alison says), or if you told me that you don’t add work people on facebook. The only time I might feel weird about it is if I saw that you were facebook friends with other colleagues, but just chose to deny my request specifically.

  33. msbadbar*

    I no longer add co-workers after a co-worker contacted me on Christmas Eve via Facebook with an “emergency” request: She couldn’t remember our webmail URL.

  34. deathstar*

    D’you know what? I and some of my colleagues simply ignore some collegial requests and say “oh, i’m not on FB as much!” that usually suffices …

  35. VX34*

    While it is definitely possible to restrict a co-worker’s friendship on Facebook, the safest method is just to say that you – as a policy! – don’t accept these requests from co-workers, in order to maintain a 100% professional relationship.

    I’ve added a couple of people before, and only because it was at a temp job, at a company that had a really laid back tech culture, so, I felt it wasn’t an issue. But for the more professional jobs? Almost certainly not.

  36. Tyrion*

    Interesting that this isn’t considered normal. In both of my only two “real” jobs, personal and professional lives were very much intertwined. The first was the military, so that’s understandable–we lived, worked, and played together our entire tours. The 2nd was public accounting. They (and I do mean “they”–I was very much an outsider) also lived and worked together, often literally! They were best men/maids of honor at each other’s weddings, went on out-of-town multiday trips (like to Stagecoach or Coachella) together. It boggled my mind. The last thing I wanted to do after 10-12 hour days was to see them in my free time.

  37. Nikki*

    I would follow Alison’s advice. If you don’t want to be FB friends with your coworkers, that is totally fine. I write a lot on Facebook, but I would never want my coworkers to see everything I have on Facebook.

  38. Varun Agrawal*

    I know I am bit late in this party and nobody read comments here. But still here are 2 cents.

    During my last job in ~10 peoples startup, I send FB friend + linkedin request to all of my coworkers after several weeks. Some accepted, some ignored. Do I care? No! Should you?

    Btw of those who ignored my request, none of them came explaining themselves to me. So why should you? If anybody asks, then tell them your decision.

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