my older male manager sent me a middle-of-the-night Snapchat request

A reader writes:

My new manager started during the pandemic. Our office is still working remote so I’ve only met him once and chatted on the phone/over email. He seems like a nice enough guy so far. However, last week I woke up to a Snapchat friend request from him (the request came in sometime between 11 pm and 7 am). I feel like it’s inappropriate and a little invasive for my 45(ish)-year-old boss to add his 25-year-old employee on any social media platform, but Snapchat in particular feels weird to me. I asked my boyfriend and a couple friends how they felt about it and they agreed that it was definitely strange. I also checked with a coworker if our new manager had added him on any social media platforms and he said that he hadn’t.

I didn’t accept the request, but I also haven’t said anything to him or anyone at work besides my one coworker who is also a friend. Any advice on what I should do here? I don’t want to make it into a big deal, but I do feel a little uncomfortable with this.

Your instincts that it’s weird and inappropriate are right — both because it was Snapchat and because it was in the middle of the night, and the fact that he didn’t do it with your male coworker underscores that. If nothing else, unfortunately you probably need to be on-guard about the possibility of further boundary violations from this guy.

I’m sorry that’s the case. It’s draining to have to be on-guard in this way at work, especially with your boss, and it can affect women professionally in ways it doesn’t affect men. For example, if your boss suggested after-work drinks to your male coworker, he’d probably think little of it. But now, because you’re stuck having to worry about his signals and intentions in a way that your male coworker won’t, you’ll probably either forego the drinks — thus foregoing the professional benefits of getting to know your boss better in an informal setting — or you’ll be worried and on-edge. Both options suck. It’s unfair and wrong, and it’s a burden borne nearly entirely by women.

As for what to do, you can absolutely mention it to him if you want to — “I got your Snapchat request. I really only use Snapchat with friends.” Or you can ignore it, which is — or at least should be — a message in itself. You can also mention it to other coworkers; it can be useful for other women to know about it in case he’s violated boundaries with them too (or does in the future), and there’s value in just bluntly stating “this is weird” and not feeling like you have to silently wonder about it on your own.

Most importantly, this should significantly decrease or remove any benefit of the doubt you or other women there give him in the future. If he does something else that feels off with women at work, let this underscore that you don’t need to go through the whole plausible-deniability dance where you second-guess yourself (“but maybe he didn’t mean it that way?” “could I be misinterpreting?”). If he acts like a creep, it’s fair to assume he’s a creep.

If anyone is reading this and thinking it seems like an awful lot to read into the situation: It’s not. Middle-of-the-night Snapchat requests are part of the creepy dude playbook, and managers have an obligation not to seem like they’re creeping on the women they manage. If he cared about that, he would have not sent it at all, or sent it to the whole team during work hours.

{ 527 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    If anyone commenting wants to engage in the very common “well maybe he didn’t mean…” responses that always greet women after a man does something creepy, I’m going to require that you accompany it by specifically explaining how it would change your advice to the LW. Otherwise, please don’t. He doesn’t need your help creating plausible deniability (which is also part of the playbook).

      1. charo*

        Yes, needed. But really, WHY is it needed? We know it feels creepy. And when he didn’t do this to the male coworker, it confirms it.
        We HAVE to trust our gut, our intuition.

        I’d ask HR if they want you to report it if boss / higher-up does this. If there’s a safe way to ask it.
        For sure save the request so you have documentation. And add that male says he’s never gotten that request. Tuck it away in case it’s needed later.

        1. Van Wilder*

          Yup, and then when we don’t trust our gut and something bad happens, it’s “Well, he sent you a Snapchat request in the middle of the night. You should have seen this coming.”

          1. Elbe*

            She’ll get blamed no matter what she does. If he ends up escalating, she’ll be blamed for not shutting it down sooner. If he doesn’t, she’ll get blamed for even THINKING he may have been creepy at all.

            Women aren’t mind readers. There’s no way to know this guy’s intentions with 100% certainty, so the best advice is for her to be polite, but also make it clear that she intends to enforce boundaries. If he’s not a creep, he won’t be offended and their working relationship will be just fine.

    1. Catalin*

      Maybe this community could put together a literal ‘creepy dude playbook’ to guide people on acceptable/unacceptable behavior. Guiding both recipients of creepy dude activities and calling out those engaging in ‘creepy dude’ behavior. Maybe it will help recipients with validation, and, frankly, creepy dude actions need to be called out.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Yes! I also wish Alison would offer an actual managerial course with certificates, because I feel like having read nearly the entirety of the archives has helped me tremendously in my professional life. But the creep playbook could also be accompanied by the “Interns 101” course, and “A Practical Course in Pushing Back as a Group” :)

        1. Salymander*

          Or Kate Harding’s blog where she talks about Schrodinger’s Rapist. Lots of info there about how to not be creepy.

          1. Bizhiki*

            Salymander – do you know where I can find that blog post? Everywhere I’m looking so far has it password protected.

            1. Salymander*

              I just tried to find a version that was not password protected and couldn’t, sorry! Last time I read it it was freely available.

              But as Esmeralda said, Captain Awkward is also really useful and brilliant and frequently completely hilarious

      2. Banana Pancakes*

        It’s technically a guide for those who have been in or are trying to escape abusive relationships, but “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft is worth its weight in gold for recognizing the signs of creepier, more abusive behavior to come.

      3. Greige*

        Yeah, I could see how learning how abuse/creepiness works would help well-meaning men avoid mistakes. Kind of like how I, as a white person originally from a place without much racial diversity, need to keep learning about racism. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you won’t likely think of all the ways to harm someone if you’re not out to do that, but you still have a responsibility as someone with privilege to learn how your behavior can affect others.

      4. nonprofit nancy*

        Yeah there’s not that much overlap and it shouldn’t be that hard to … not be someone who feels entitled to women’s time / attention/ sexual favors just because someone is acting like a human being.

      5. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I wish sexual harassment training would go over more subtle behaviors like this. It’s always the most blunt obvious examples, but the really insidious stuff is things like this that get waved away with ‘well he didn’t mean…’. That is the stuff they really need training for. We all know we shouldn’t slap anyone’s ass in the office. They need to be clear with creepy dudes that we see what they are doing and tell them to stop.

        1. Melissa*

          I guess in this case, it’s subtle enough that is has gone right over my head. I’m seeing Snapchat as something like Facebook or Instagram, and it’s that the timing of the request is what marks this?

          Would the letter writer need to deny the request and block this guy to retain her privacy, or is the request, if agreed to, what gets him in to see her account?

          1. lb*

            As a general rule, connecting with your subordinates on social media is a dicey proposition, especially when you, the manager, are the one requesting. You’re asking for a direct connection to their life outside of work, and that may not be information it’s appropriate for you to have. That applies to Facebook & Instagram just as much as Snapchat.

            That being said, the middle-of-the night nature of the request does make it seem sleazier. He was looking for her, or at least thinking about her, in a decidedly non-work context. It’s not like he sent it right after they had a meeting, where it would make sense for her to be top of mind. I think we also tend to associate the middle of the night with private behavior, which makes it another shade squwickier.

            1. Melissa*

              Thanks, I think that’s the part I was missing. I think if I was fooling around on Snapchat in the middle of the night, and got a pop up saying “You might know this person!” I would not do anything about it right then, because it’s the middle of the night.

            2. blue*

              Also Snapchat is used primarily (entirely?) for sharing photos that then disappear. Make of that what you will.

              1. Tidewater 4-1009*

                Yes, I remember when it first came out… lots of scandals of people sending inappropriate photos that disappeared so the senders couldn’t be called out… very creepy.
                I remember I read about a teenage boy who received an inappropriate snapchat and took a screen shot of it and took it to his mother. Smart boy! :)

          2. Fly paper*

            Snap chat is uniquely creepy because it’s mostly intended as a way to send one-on-one private photos and messages with people, unlike Facebook and Instagram which are more of a broadcasting-to-everyone-you-know kind of platform. And honestly I would also view the FB and Insta invite as inappropriate by a boss, unless it was already the workplace norm to connect with other employees via social media due to the nature of the business.

            1. Amaranth*

              I was thinking it might give her peace of mind to address it in case he says someone else clicked the invite, but then I realized he was still pulling up her name and staring at her photo online at 4am in the very best interpretation.

          3. kt*

            Snapchat is an app that lets users share pictures and videos that disappear soon after they’re shared. (Near-quoting from a description from elsewhere.) The pictures and videos are shared to friends you select. The idea is to share funny or embarrassing stuff you don’t need to keep around for a long time; it’s not that Snapchat shares *must* be embarrassing or funny or unprofessional, but the motivating factor is to be able to share things with your friends that you *don’t* want on your ‘permanent record’, because they disappear after a short interval.

            What reason does this manager have to share embarrassing/funny/ephemeral photos and video with his employee?

            If they’re not already social friends who share a love of (and frequent conversations about) cute dogs they see daily, or pics from the running trail, or whatever… why does this manager need to be showing ephemeral photos and video to his employee in the middle of the night?

            1. kt*

              To say more, Facebook and Instagram are somewhat public — sure, you can keep your shares to friends only, but you don’t Facebook post *at* a person, in general, nor do you Instagram post *at* a person. You send Snapchat pics to people you select — you don’t post them to the whole world. These are pretty different and Snapchat is more intimate, in this sense.

            2. blaise zamboni*

              Yup. Even if the content isn’t funny/embarrassing, it’s just…a more intimate platform than FB/Insta/Twitter, by design. It’s very “slice of life” IMO; I’ve gotten to know one of my friends’ large family, without ever officially meeting them, because she sends me Snaps when she visits them and asks them to say hello to me. She has other social media but those moments aren’t posted there, because they’re meant for a small set of people. That’s the huge draw of Snapchat.

              Plus Snapchat has a more ~authentic~ and ~casual~ feel in general, because, with stories that disappear after viewing, there isn’t the same pressure to portray your life or yourself as so perfect and poised . I’m extremely private in general and shudder at the thought of adding my boss, or even most of my coworkers, on any social media. But even for me there’s a huge difference in the feel of adding an employee on Facebook (where you can theoretically share interesting articles or thoughts that you don’t mind colleagues/boss seeing) vs adding an employee on Snapchat (where the entire purpose is to share snippets of your actual daily life – your home, your pets, yourself).

              Even if OP’s boss isn’t planning to send inappropriate pictures or isn’t trying to ogle OP’s beach stories (WHICH I DOUBT), the platform is just waaaaaaaaaaaaay too casual for a workplace relationship, especially between a boss and his employee.

              1. blaise zamboni*

                Oh, I totally forgot this part, but I think this is also relevant. You can send direct messages to friends in Snapchat, and the chat (like the pictures) disappears as soon as you exit the screen. You can save the chat but there’s not a way to do it without the other person knowing that you have**. The first method is to save individual messages in the chat when you read them (because if you exit it will be lost), but that saves it on their end too and, in my experience of Snapchat etiquette, that kinda indicates that you welcome the conversation and want to continue it (especially for sexting). The other option is to screenshot the conversation…which then alerts the other person that you took a screenshot of the chat and, again in my experience, tends to be seen as a passive aggressive/hostile move (especially by creepy dudes). You also can’t save pictures without Snapchat notifying the sender that you’ve done that, so if your boss sent you a dick pic (or other inappropriate pic) he would realize that you screenshot it — and could take it as a positive or a negative and respond accordingly.

                In college, I added an older classmate on Snapchat and he QUICKLY devolved into sending creepy messages (but with plausible deniability, because of course.) He kept it up even as I deferred, changed the subject, brought up my boyfriend, etc. He stopped when I screenshot the chat and then *he refused to speak to me anymore, even in class*. We were in a language class and had been part of a very small group practicing together for the entire semester, so it was a pretty extreme reaction. (Also, I thought we were actual friends, but I digress.) It didn’t matter much to me because it was only an hour and a half twice a week, but I can’t imagine if he had been my boss. The way Snapchat messaging works opens OP up to sexual harassment that she might not be able to quietly save to report to HR, without Boss interpreting it the wrong way or retaliating against her for it.

                Snapchat just really isn’t meant for work! Ever! And I’m certain Boss knows that. I’m sorry you’re having to navigate this, OP.

                **I know there are some apps meant to hide the fact that you’ve saved Snapchat messages or pictures, but OP shouldn’t have to jump through hoops like that to exist in her workplace.

                1. Tidewater 4-1009*

                  IMO it’s inherently creepy that snapchat users can’t save or screenshot messages without the sender being notified. It’s like it was designed to facilitate creeping. Blech.

          4. JSPA*

            Snapchat is

            a) primarily visual

            b) intentionally evanescent

            c) pitched originally and foremost as a private way for friends and “friends” to chat off record

            d) significantly less commonly used for any legitimate work function than the other platforms you mention (though they do offer business accounts in a couple dozen countries)


            e) this isn’t something he’s doing with all the employees / all his reports–just her.

            If this were “fast urban fashion” and there were a business snapchat account and everyone else at work were invited to link to that account, that’s something different.

            Let’s say I invited a much younger report to link up on snapchat by complete mistake–grabbed the phone in the middle of the night, and my finger slipped onto some “you may know” prompt, and then slipped again, to confirm. (In a world where one of my pets has managed to not only write but send an email, I will accept that this is remotely possible.)

            What would I do next?

            I might invite the whole office. Weird, but not creepy. I might find a “cancel request” button. I might send an apologetic message via some other app, to say, “my mistake, bobbled my phone, please ignore” either then, or in the morning.

            One thing I would not do is, “let it ride and assume it’s fine.”

            And in any case, Alison isn’t saying, “please stick a stake through him and ready the flames.” She’s saying, “if there are borderline creepy acts over the next few weeks, don’t play the ‘benefit of the doubt’ game inside your head.” If, three years from now, he’s been nothing but a solid boss with no boundary issues, this will have faded from memory like it never happened.

            But if he crawls under desks to “help with a loose cord” (but only for women, and only when they are wearing skirts)…or suggests that OP or another woman climb on a step stool, then “steadies” her as she descends…or texts someone female an eggplant emoji, tomato emoji, “ratatouille” and a wink emoji… those things will happen in the context of the prior, smaller boundary nudge. And, as a result, they will be far less ambiguous than they might otherwise have been.

            Not necessarily as far as demonstrating an “intent”–but as far as demonstrating a pattern of unacceptable behavior that reasonably registers as a boundary violation, regardless of proving intent.

            1. EA*

              Hey, OP here – thank you for articulating this better than I possibly could have! You completely just summed up my exact thoughts on the situation

              1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

                It was an excellent summary. My one-sentence answer for your question was going to be “It’s mostly for sending dick pics.” :)

            2. Yvette*

              “…or texts someone female an eggplant emoji, tomato emoji, “ratatouille” and a wink emoji… ” I am old. Please explain why these are inappropriate. I do not want to be the mom who thinks the Poo emoji is a chocolate kiss or LOL means Lots of Love.

              1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

                Eggplant emoji is a penis. Always. Eggplant plus water droplets is obvious. Peach emoji is a butt. Never heard of tomato meaning anything. I guess am not hip to what the kids get up to these days either….

                1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  I’m on a Discord server where we were talking about food and recipes, including things to do with eggplant and other vegetables, and someone remarked that this was the *only* time they had seen the eggplant emoji used to me “let’s make babaganoush”. (We also use the peach and cucumber emojis literally–and those facts are noteworthy as not being how it’s usually done.)

          5. Wintermute*

            snapchat has a certain connotation because it was originally just a platform for secure, self-deleting content, so it’s built for deniability and to be hard to use as evidence against someone. Because of that feature it rapidly got a reputation for use for adult content, there’s protection from someone saving it to use against you later, for one.

            It’s a contextual reputation thing

          6. knead me seymour*

            As someone who has endured my fair share of creeps, I would describe this kind of behaviour as not totally conclusive but certainly cause to be on alert around the person. Experience shows that this sort of subtle boundary crossing is often a way for creeps to test the waters while maintaining a veneer of deniability. It is often followed by more and more overt violations. Creeps love to pretend to just be socially clueless, but in fact, they are quite attuned to the fine shades of interaction that they may or may not be able to get away with.

          7. mrs__peel*

            I’m not exactly an expert on what The Teens™ are up to these days, but my understanding is the initial use of Snapchat was mostly for young people to send nude/intimate photos of themselves without having to worry that the recipient would save it to their own phone and show it around at school. (Although apparently there are still ways to do that).

          8. Mayflower*

            Snapchat skews very young: 90% of Snapchat users are 13-24 years old. A 40-plus year old hanging around Snapchat is like a 40-plus year old hanging around a high school. Super creepy.

          9. Beth*

            So the thing that’s unique about Snapchat vs other social media is, it lets people send photos and then automatically deletes them once the recipient has seen them. It also tells you if the recipient has taken a screenshot (to save the image/get around the app deleting it).

            Because of that, my main impression of it is as an app used to send racy pictures. Some people do use it as regular social media, but if someone asks if I have it, my assumption is that they want to either send or receive nudes and other sexy photos. The middle-of-the-night request only reinforces that assumption; I’d be pretty skeptical about my boss asking me to connect on Snapchat at any time of day.

          10. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Snapchat is typically where teens send each other pix of their morning crap, so no it’s not at all appropriate for colleagues, much less 45yo boss and much younger report.

        2. Lizzo*

          I believe the term for that kind of stuff is “microaggressions”, though that may only refer to persistent and subtle racist behaviors.

          And you’re right, the small stuff gets explained away as the person who is the subject of the harassment “misunderstanding the intentions” of the harasser, or “making a fuss”.

        3. KAG*

          Exactly. Most guys don’t want to be “that guy”, but given social conditioning/ upbringing, it’s sometimes hard to figure out when the line is crossed.

          Example: my best friend and I, both cis women in our late 30s/early 40s, were discussing pronouns. Even with the best intentions, I realized how something I was doing could come across as offensive, and I would love to have real training on that.

          “Creepers gonna creep” may be true, but “creepy behavior is only perpetuated by people who are, fundamentally, creeps” is not.

        4. lazy intellectual*

          Yeah – it’s like how a lot of people dismiss criticisms of microaggressions because according to some people, it’s only racism if the person is waving a burning cross in your face or something.

      6. Sacred Ground*

        I’m in my mid 50s and have been aware of the Nice Guy (not actually a nice guy but pretending to be a friend while concealing one’s romantic interest and then blaming the woman for treating one as the friend one has pretended to be) concept for at least 20 years.

    2. Legal Beagle*

      Thank you, Alison! People should take the mental energy they put into creating hypothetical scenarios where this wasn’t creepy, and redirect it to reading the comments about why the ubiquitous “what if” reaction (that undermines the woman’s judgment and excuses the man’s behavior) is so toxic and harmful.

    3. AthenaC*

      Which is the brilliance of the blame-neutral boundary-setting of “I got your Snapchat request. I really only use Snapchat with friends.” It doesn’t opine or assume either way, which doesn’t really matter anyway – it’s a fact that a line was crossed and it’s a fact that the OP gets to clearly communicate their boundary.

      If he was well-intentioned, he’ll respond with “My bad!” and not do it again.

      If he was NOT well-intentioned, he still won’t do it again because he knows he won’t get away with that specific thing. He may try something else or move on to different prey, but either way, the advice for the OP here and now is the same.

    4. AKchic*

      Thank you.

      We have so many enablers for these chucklef*cks as it is, that we don’t need more on *this* particular forum.

      (for examples, please read any comment section of any story about the Alaskan Attorney General and his 558 unwanted text messages to a young female state worker in less than 4 weeks, and the cover-up by the governor, governor’s office, the AG’s office, and basically anyone and everyone the poor woman reported to).

      1. JSPA*

        hunh, missed that, and it even made the NY Times. Newsflash: if someone has not figured out that messages can be work-inappropriate despite being non-obscene, please sign up for remedial training on “workplaces, they’re not a singles bar.”

        1. AKchic*

          Oh yeah, and for us who HAVE been state workers (I was, very briefly), who have experienced workplace SH (I’ve worked in a lot of “good ‘ol boy” industries), and who loathe the current state administration, this continues to highlight our point.

          This particular AG had the governor write to the president to get around the immigration laws to make an exception for his wife in South America. There is no indication that the president has even read the letter yet. This is the same AG that touts his “family values”, religious values, anti-abortion stance to block anything that is not very conservative in his own religious beliefs for state law. He’s gotten the state sued multiple times and is continuously governor bad advice (which gets him sued).

    5. Brett*

      I mentioned this in my comment.
      The one thing I think that any alternate explanation changes, is that it moves the needle more towards directly calling him out instead of ignoring the behavior. Even if “he didn’t mean”, he still has to change his behavior.

    6. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

      Exactly – I get tons of snapchat notifications that a contact of mine is on snapchat. I very rarely recognize who the person is, but you know what I do? I don’t add them, and I definitely do not add them in the middle of the night. Even if this guy “innocently” sends snapchat requests to contacts he doesn’t recognize, the best advice is to proceed with the advice you gave, Alison, and keep an eye on any other creepy behavior.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Right?? In fact, every single time snapchat notifies me that a new work contact is on snapchat (WHY does it thinks I want to be snapchat friends with everyone who’s phone number I have??), I react with horrifying fear and the compulsion to throw my phone because the sheer horror of the possibility that I could accidentally invite someone is… horrifying.

        1. Lucy P*

          Off topic, but this is why I’m a hermit when it comes to having social media platforms on my phone. My contacts are my contacts and I don’t want to share them with big brother.

            1. Office Grunt*

              Looking back (used Facebook extensively from 2005-13 and 2015-19), I was very much a long-time doomscroller.

              So glad I ditched it. I still rue the day that they opened it up to high schoolers :/

    7. Not A Girl Boss*

      Yess! I also particularly liked your “managers have an obligation not to seem like they’re creeping on the women they manage” comment.
      Because even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and even if someone on here manages to convince us that “he didn’t mean it like that…” Its irrelevant, because it is literally his job to make sure that things he does can’t be misconstrued. Which includes things like second guessing sending social media invites to your female direct reports.

    8. M*

      Thank you for this Alison. As someone who had a creepy man as a professor in college, I appreciate the acknowledgment that this is what they intentionally do. My prof was infamous for “accidentally” walking into the women’s dressing room during rehearsals, “inadvertently” saying inappropriate things to young college-age women who were his students, “creative interpretations” of stage directions which often included women having to show more of their body than they were originally told they had to (and which was NOT the intention of the playwright in many cases), and for tickling. He always hid behind those of us who were worried that maybe he didn’t mean it that way, or maybe we were just overreacting. But a student reached out to alumni and current students after I left, and there was an investigation, and he was removed from campus. Apparently there were more than enough of us, but many were too worried about the plausible deniability (and power imbalance) to say anything.

      1. JSPA*

        Just as importantly, there’s no requirement that something be demonstrably “meant” a certain way, for it to be not OK.

        If a stranger is in my house, they are already trespassing; any further mitigating explanation (thought it was their friend’s house; has dementia; desperate for a toilet; was tricked by a predatory catfisher) presumes that the SITUATION is not OK, regardless of intent.

        If a professor is walking into dressing rooms, the situation is similarly “already not OK.”

        If he’s under the misperception that it’s his job to free people from body-shame, the problem is slightly different from, “combined attacks of narcolepsy and sleepwalking” or “substance misuse” or “thinks it is funny and makes bets on it” or “compulsion” or “intentional grooming” or “self deception” or “believes all social norms are a bourgeois construct.”

        But those differences, while potentially relevant to him and his therapist, do nothing to make the situation acceptable.

        We’ve come to accept that interpersonal violence is not somehow magically acceptable just because it involves domestic partners, or because the injured party doesn’t press charges, but for whatever reason, “this is not something that can be workplace-acceptable” gets far more push-back.

        1. Old, but Not Set in my Ways*

          This is such a cogent comment that I have taken a screen shot for future reference. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with people who need to hear this. Thank you for your beautiful brain.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        Thank you! I saw this a while back and was trying to remember it recently.

        I used this to train myself to not take things personally. If some random person was rude or whatever, I just said “they’re having a bad day” and went on with my life.

        That’s different from obvious bias though.

    9. Caroline Bowman*


      Had he sent it to all of his reports (at any time of day – the middle-of-the-night thing definitely makes it worse, but even so) with a ”hey! I’m friending all my team (or something)” it would simply have been a clumsy, older-person thing, but that’s not what happened and yes, he was being creepy and weird. It is quite a path from there to ”sex pest” but your accepting the request would open to the door to all kinds of unpleasant, unwanted things and he is trying his luck. Grim. Ignore it, remember it, keep a very close eye on him.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Very. When I read the headline, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “What the hell?!”

      I’m seriously questioning this dude’s judgement.

  2. Lady Heather*

    So.. what again is Snapchat? I know it as an app that was in the news for “This sexting-app is not for safe sexting” but I’ve also heard it’s a young people’s version of What’s App.

    Would anyone mind clearing this up for me?

      1. SMcG*

        It’s a free message and calling application for smart phones and other mobile devices. There are lots of people who don’t pay for a phone plan, and instead rely on WiFi and various apps for communicating.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          The larger team I’m apart of at work uses it because we’re globally dispersed and international phone charges would be through the roof for what are essentially non-business related side conversations.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I’ve used it for work because I used to travel internationally a lot and would just pop a local prepaid SIM into my phone when I got to my destination, so my phone number changed all the time but Whatsapp stayed consistent. I was always there with teammates and also working with a local team and we texted a lot to arrange times to meet or update people if one of us was running late, so it was really helpful.

            It was also nice because I got my parents to use it so they could contact me while I was abroad regardless of whatever weird international phone number I was using at the time. Extra helpful because they petsat my dog when I was away.

            1. Doc in a Box*

              If you are using Whatsapp, you don’t need to have a local prepaid SIM. I travel a lot (well, I used to) and in Europe and Asia, Whatsapp is the default mode of communication rather than SMS/cellular networks. You do need to have either wifi or a data connection though; if you are mainly in cities it’s not a problem but might be an issue if you’re out in the country a lot.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                Yeah, I didn’t have consistent access to wifi and I have NO sense of direction whatsoever so I needed consistent data access so I could use google maps to not get lost. I got local SIMs because at that time international data through my mobile carrier was exorbitantly expensive and you could get a local SIM with 1gb of data for like $12 US most of the places I went, whereas my carrier charged $60+ for 1gb.

                Now I’m on a carrier with free international roaming so it no longer matters.

    1. Gyratory Circus*

      Short version is it’s a texting app where the messages and pictures (supposedly) disappear after a short time so people use it for sexting. Turns out they are in fact recoverable with a little work.

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Also used a lot by teenagers who know their parents check their phone and don’t want them to see things. Have also seen it in the context of cheating spouses. Basically can be used to keep people from seeing what you’re up to.

        1. Deliliah*

          Snapchat will tell you if someone screen shotted your image – though if you use a second device to take a picture, it won’t know.

          1. Amaranth*

            That seems like a feature added that in order to *sound* like a security measure, which a lot of kids might not think through — by that time its too late, that person has your nude photo/grumpy cat meme/whatever.

      2. Regina Phalange*

        I mean, I don’t think sexting is its primary use. I’m not on it but I have tons of friends my age (35) and younger who use it as just a normal messaging app. It’s very similar to Instagram “stories” if you’re familiar — those disappear after 24 hours too. (But I think snapchat is used for direct messaging a bit more than Instagram is.)

        To be clear, I still think this dude’s request is inappropriate and probably creepy. But I wouldn’t classify Snapchat as an app that is used primarily for sexting.

        1. Czhorat*

          Yes, this. “Snapchat is for sexting” is a salacious and not altogether fair explanation based on the ephemeral nature of the messages and the general need for news to be as titillating as possible. It’s a messaging app like any other; some people like the ephemeral nature of it, some prefer the supposed permanence of traditional messaging apps (I’m in the latter category, but I understand the draw of a temporary “delete on read” kind of messaging).

          That said, adding on ANY messenger app at midnight is definitely weird; the OP’s company most likely has email as well as Slack, Teams, S4B, or some other professional messaging platform; there’s no real professional reason to randomly add employees on Snapchat, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Duo, or whatever other personal messenger service they use.

          It’s creepy behavior, but not because Snapchat = Sexting.

          1. Just Another Techie*

            Snapchat is not solely used for sexting. But it has a reputation as being “the sexting app” which even such avowed “I still use IRC” olds like me are aware of. Also, as other commenters have pointed out, the disappearing* nature of messages means a lot of dudes think they can send dick pics and not get caught because the messages “disappear”

            So yes, him adding her on Snapchat adds an additional layer of red flag over the baseline level of inappropriateness that would apply to the other messaging platforms you mentioned.

            * Yes, I know you can recover images from Snapchat with little effort, but do the creepy dudes who use it to harass women know that? Certainly a great many of them don’t.

            1. Batgirl*

              The reputation is still important, even more so because the reputation is ambiguous, because part of the creepy dude handbook is ‘hint only up to the line of plausible deniability’. Of course it’s often used for straightforward forward communications, but that’s not the hint he’s making.

              1. Caroline Bowman*

                This is the thing. Had he said to the whole team ”oh by the way, you will get a friend request on snapchat from me in the next couple of days because of XYZ” (I cannot think why, some kind of ”let’s all be buddies” thing) and then it would just be a clumsy older dude trying to be friends with his team and doing it in a clumsy, well-intentioned way.

                This is not that. This is a way for him to test the water with her in a plausibly-deniable way. Yuck.

          2. SheLooksFamiliar*

            ‘It’s creepy behavior, but not because Snapchat = Sexting.’

            Exactly. I’ve gotten icky letters and cards from customers and a random guy in my office building via snailmail. I’ve gotten embarrassing late-night voicemails from a drunk and randy male co-worker. I’ve gotten emails from male co-workers that made my skin crawl. And I also know male co-workers who got naked Polaroids and pornographic letters from female co-workers, proving it’s not male-specific behavior.

            The behavior is the problem, not the delivery system or even gender. Snapchat just makes the offender feel better about the ‘temporary’ nature of the message.

        2. LDF*

          I have always assumed that Instagram stories was a direct copy of snapchat. That was all I used snap for, not sexting.

        3. Mouse*

          Yeah, I’m 26 and my sister is 22, and we primarily use snapchat to send pictures of our cats back and forth all day, especially now that I’m working from home. The pictures aren’t saved to your camera roll unless you specifically tell it to, so it’s perfect for those “omg this is so cute but like, normal cute, and I don’t need 5,000 pictures of my cat on my phone, but I still want to send it to you” moments.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                This is why I have google photos backup, so I don’t have to delete ANY of these nearly identical photos of my dog sleeping in a cute position.

              2. e271828*

                The ~5000 pictures I have taken of my cat are in the cloud, is this not how everyone does it? That way you have cat on tap when you need cat

            1. TexasRose*

              Because you only want the BEST 5000 pictures of cats on your phone. At a rate of 10 pics per day, you would run out of space in less than two years (less if you also want to include pics of someone else’s cute cat).

              (I’ll slink away now…)

              1. Amaranth*

                But it seems to lack the necessary side-by-side comparison option so you can make educated choices.

        4. Smithy*

          While perhaps not it’s primary use, the reality of it being an app where a primary feature is that messages disappear is wildly concerning. Whether sexting or any other kind of harassment or unprofessional behavior, I think that makes it uniquely uncomfortable as opposed to Facebook or Instagram. Both of those may still raise questions of professional/private life but wanting to message without “receipts” is particularly unnerving.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Right? I’m trying to think of a legitimate reason for a *business* to want its internal communications to not be recorded. Lots of illegitimate reasons come to mind, mainly the avoidance of liability for all kinds of bad behaviors including sexual harassment. If there’s no record, there’s no proof and nothing for the company to act on or be liable for.

            1. Lockvey*

              Right? I’m trying to think of a legitimate reason for a *business* to want its internal communications to not be recorded.
              Plenty o’them. A phone call can’t be on the front page of the New York Times.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            There is a way of recording the message, the sender gets a notification that it didn’t disappear as intended, but I think you have to do something to record it before opening it. Once you’ve opened it, it’s too late, and you might not think of doing that straightaway, especially if you see it first thing in the morning while the coffee is still brewing.

      3. Cobol*

        Snapchat definitely started as an app for teenagers, who used it to sext because teenagers. It was really emerging as a social platform, but then Facebook introduced Instagram Stories, which started to effectively kill Snapchat.

        A funny thing happened though and Snapchat re-emerged as sort of an app version of IM (for those of us of the AIM generation). Since it doesn’t save anything automatically people essentially will use it for inconsequential communication.

        1. Cobol*

          Snapchat definitely started as an app for teenagers, who used it to sext because teenagers. It was really emerging as a social platform, but then Facebook introduced Instagram Stories, which started to effectively kill Snapchat.

          A funny thing happened though and Snapchat re-emerged as sort of an app version of IM (for those of us of the AIM generation). Since it doesn’t save anything automatically people essentially will use it for inconsequential communication.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Or, as noted above, consequential communication that one doesn’t want a record of it even happening, let alone the content.

            1. Cobol*

              Well right, and a manager should never have consequential communication with a report that they don’t want a record of.

              Also if you’re a man 20 years older than somebody you work with (really in general), you need to wait for them to connect with you.

        2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          “the AIM generation” ugh, never has being an older millennial felt so old.

    2. EverybodyHasOne*

      With Snapchat you can send messages and pic, video that are only accessible for a set amount of time and that will disappear after viewing. This makes it popular for sexting.

    3. Bostonian*

      My understanding is that messages and photos shared over Snapchat disappear after a short amount of time, unlike a FB feed where everything stays until you intentionally delete it (which gives Snapchat an extra layer of “someone might be using this for nefarious purposes” feel).

      It might work differently now (I’m a cusp millennial who never got into snapchat), but I think other people still see it that way. (If you want to do something shady and not get caught, use Snapchat.)

      1. Emi.*

        They don’t disappear — they just get hidden, but they are still recoverable with only a small amount of trouble.

    4. swfgoesketo*

      This is super yucky. Yes, Snapchat is known as for its sexting applications. So much about this is weird (and gross).

      For one thing, it is definitely a platform designed for younger people. (I am late thirties and wouldn’t be on it.)

      For another, part of the point is that the messages and pictures disappear (unless you take a screen shot, in which case the sender is informed). This has “potential for sexual harassment” written all over it.

      1. Deliliah*

        I’m gonna be 39 next week and have Snapchat. My main reason for it is to be able to put bitmojis in my texts, but I’ve started seeing a guy who uses it so we send ridiculous filtered photos to each other using it. I’ve never sent any sort of nudes over it, because I refuse to put that image on the internet.

        1. Shhhh*

          “…so we send ridiculous filtered photos to each other using it.”

          This encapsulates one of the main uses of Snapchat that’s not sending nudes. I’m 29 and the main way I (and my friends) have used it is to send silly photos that are intended for a smaller audience than our other social media is. Members of my extended family and people I went to high school and college with can see my Facebook and Instagram, but I take silly selfies that I only send to a small group on Snapchat.

          There’s nothing nefarious about the way a lot of people (myself included) use it. But whereas I wouldn’t have a problem with my boss following my Twitter (which I use primarily for professional purposes) in the middle of the night, I would have a problem with them sending me a Snapchat request ever.

          1. Anon, Esq.*

            I agree–not even because of the sexting use, but because it’s just a more intimate kind of chatting, IMO. I have a snapchat because it’s just about the only way my 20 year old brother communicates, but even then (with obviously zero sexual impropriety) it’s much less “glossy” than other forms of communication. I would never have anyone from work have my snapchat for that reason; I WANT a little bit of formality there.

          2. Leap Day Highway*

            Yes, exactly! I have Snapchat because my friend uses it to send me funny photos of her pets. That’s as tame as it comes (cute bunnies!) and I would still not do that with my boss. Even if it’s totally G-rated, Snapchat is just too… personal/silly/private? I send my boss cute pet photos via our “off topic” Teams channel, like a regular non-creepy person.

            1. nona*

              +1 – LinkedIn and Twitter are fine for business/professional connections. But all (?, most?) of the others are for non-professional relationships because they’re too personal and break that work/life barrier.

        2. many bells down*

          Yeah the entertaining filters are pretty much the only reason I have it. I never even check it, honestly, unless I want to take a silly picture where I have teddy bear ears.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        For another, part of the point is that the messages and pictures disappear (unless you take a screen shot, in which case the sender is informed). This has “potential for sexual harassment” written all over it.

        Yup, that’s probably precisely why he sent the request. Ugh.

        1. ...*

          Early 30’s but same. Would you guys refer to the internet as ‘a communication system primarily designed to watch porn’? Lol the pearl clutching is insane on this. snap chat is literally just a photo sharing app. also none of the early 20s employees I have even use it. So I dont think its just for ‘younger people’.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            Anyone who’s clutching their pearls needs to back up and look at how many technological advances were driven by porn. Porn helped drive development and adoption of VCRs, cable TV, streaming video, and online payments, among countless other things. I don’t actually know why Snapchat was originally developed but if it WAS originally intended to be for sexting specifically I would not be surprised but I also would not care — tons of stuff was originally developed for recording or distributing adult content and then adopted for general use, because it turns out that people are willing to be early adopters of a new technology for looking at porn.

            1. Important Moi*

              The porn connection makes lots of folks uncomfortable, but lots of non-porn computers users reap the benefits.

            2. MassMatt*

              Preach! And don’t forget the internet itself; for many years of the early internet porn sites were the only ones actually generating revenue.

              The libido is a powerful motivator.

              That aside, the invite from the boss is creepy and it sucks that because it’s her boss, it’s so tough to deal with.

            3. Ego Chamber*

              I don’t see any pearl clutching tho? All I see is some Snapchat users with their backs up arguing Snapchat isn’t for porn/sexting/etc because that’s not how they use it. Which is kinda weird, since the popularity of Snapchat for sharing explicit material is how it got so popular. I don’t think that was the intent but that’s how it happened, like VCRs and cable and all that other stuff you said.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Right? I don’t even have any pearls to clutch, just saying that it’s not a suitable app for colleagues to communicate on, and I get the impression that’s the general consensus.

            1. JSPA*

              The question isn’t whether the internet is (now) for porn. It is. But it’s also for everything else, including acting as the lifeblood of most businesses.

              Snapchat isn’t only porn. But very few of its users are business users, using it for business purposes that are a) pressing b) essential and c) not shady.

              In fact, the non-sex uses of snapchat in a business setting would be at least as worrisome to me as the other.

              I don’t want there to be a way for my boss to give me orders that disappear. Disappearing documents are broadly not cool, in a business context.

              1. Arctic*

                No one here is responding to a comment that said the boss was right (not arguing that.) We are responding to an argument that the platform is inherently for young people and with the main purpose of using it for sexting. Neither of which is true anymore if it ever was.

          2. Sylvia*

            I’m a millennial and I don’t use Snapchat, haha. I’m just not that into social media at all. Plus I’m an introvert with no non-furry friends, so there’s that.

            But I agree that Snapchat is just a silly little photo-sharing app. Of course there are people that have added sexuality into it because…well, because people like sex. That’s all there really is to it. People have added sexuality into a lot of things.

          3. SS Express*

            I don’t think it’s “pearl clutching” to say that Snapchat is commonly used for sexting. Nobody is saying that Snapchat is bad or that sexting is bad – just that one of the things Snapchat is often used for is exchanging sexual (or otherwise NSFW) pictures and messages, and because of this a Snapchat request from your boss has different connotations from a Facebook add or Instagram follow.

      3. Joielle*

        I mean, I’m in a family snapchat group with my husband’s sisters (30s), my in-laws (60s), and my ten-year-old niece, and we mostly send videos of people’s kids and pets. It’s useful so big video files don’t take up space on your phone. So it does have non-sexual uses, and people of all ages use it. But the boss isn’t family and has no legitimate reason to want to send videos privately to the OP, so….. yeah, this is definitely gross.

        I’d ignore it, and if the boss brings it up, just be like “Oh, I only use snapchat with a couple of close friends, but if you ever want to send me a picture of something just email me.” I can’t imagine that the boss will admit that he wanted to send you something inappropriate for work email, so he’ll pretty much have to drop it (or escalate into REALLY inappropriate territory, in which case, go to HR).

      4. AnotherAlison*

        I’m not saying the boss was innocent with his intentions, but jeez, lighten up on this a little. I’m 42. We have a family snapchat with my 2 kids and husband. (Kids are 23 and 16, and we’ve had it ~4 years.) It’s basically all I use it for. They use it for other stuff, but it’s not required. We have a lot of family inside jokes on there, and I think it’s been overall positive. I’m well aware of some pitfalls from a screenshot incident that happened to my youngest, but sometimes you have to just not be a dumbass online.

        1. Czhorat*

          As I said, if he wanted to communicate professionally there are CERTAINLY professional tools available to him. Sexting or not, it’s pushing a boundary, if not crossing it.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            ^To add
            -one female direct report
            -in the middle of the night
            -and not her male co-worker.
            Those were the details that made it creepy to me.

        2. Batgirl*

          I don’t see why your family usage makes it any less weird for a boss to use; you’re just stressing how intimate it is.

          1. JSPA*

            Right! It’s also awkward if he “feels like you’re my daughter” or “thinks of her as a little sister.” It doesn’t have to be sex to be problematic.

            It’s like “heere there be dragons” on a map; you see it, and you know to keep an eye out for something iffy around there, even if “dragons” isn’t the only (or best) explanation.

        3. MassMatt*

          No one is saying Snapchat is inherently evil. But the usage you mention is not work related or even adjacent. And that the boss did this in the middle of the night to a female subordinate and has not done so with his male subordinates puts it well into creepy town.

    5. Peanut Butter Vibes*

      Anyone that tries to play this situation off as just trying to use a platform that “the young people use” is off base. Snapchat is a beyond inappropriate method to be communicating with a direct-report… if not most coworkers.
      It’s SUCH a red flag even in the dating scene, and I appreciate Alison’s appropriate categorization in the “creepy dude playbook”.

      1. Bostonian*

        This is a good point. Snapchat is like Tinder of social networks. Yeah, some people might use it for straightforward purposes, but it has a reputation.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Exactly. Maybe you read Playboy for the great articles, but you don’t bring one to read at the office.

          1. Arvolin*

            At one point, I was commuting on a bus, and another frequent passenger was a blind man who was often reading the Braille edition of Playboy. He is the one person I ever met who I’d believe if he said he read it for the articles.

        2. Cobol*

          I think the reputation is outdated, especially with younger people (slightly younger than OP) who weren’t even teenagers when it was the sexting app. However, that doesn’t make what the manager did appropriate. It is still reserved for people with an existing personal relationship.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I think the reputation is relevant because even though it’s outdated/untrue, people who know enough about snapchat to have it installed are generally *aware* of the reputation. It is overwhelmingly likely that OP’s manager knows what the optics are of adding a young female direct report on snapchat in the middle of the night.

            Honestly regardless of the reputation it’s a little sketchy to want to talk to your direct report on a medium where one of the defining features is the ostensible lack of a permanent record. Like, what exactly do you need to communicate with me that you can’t do over email or slack, or perhaps text message if you MUST get my attention after hours?

            1. Salymander*

              Yeah, that is pretty suspicious. If it was a legit business thing, wouldn’t he want to have a record of it? Particularly for communications in the middle of the night? It just seems like folks have to jump through a lot of mental hoops (or ignore many of the facts in this situation) if they want to believe that this guy is not a creeper. This isn’t one of those international business situations where he is trying to keep costs down and maintain contact with all the people he works with. Just the one young woman. And yeah, Snapchat is not exclusively devoted to dick pics. It can be fun for family photos and cat pictures and whatnot. Because cat pictures are keeping many of us from climbing the walls right now. I just think that, in this case and with this particular man, the intention to creep is extremely likely.

            2. Cobol*

              Right. It’s still inappropriate. That’s actually why I noted that it’s not really a sexting app anymore. Most people who use it use it in a different way, but that doesn’t make what manager did excusable. He was crossing a boundary, even if it wasn’t for salacious reasons.

            3. Cobol*

              I don’t think all communication needs to be work communication. Depending on the industry it might be common to text/Facebook/instagram colleagues, but as a manager you need to know where the line is, and this guy crossed it.

          2. Ego Chamber*

            Which people are too young to be aware of Snapchat’s reputation? (Snapchat is 9 years old.) And when did it stop being a sexting app?

    6. LGC*


      Primarily, it’s for ephemeral direct messages (basically, they automatically delete after a day or so). So you can imagine why people use it for sexting. But it’s not just for that – or even mostly for that.

      (I often refer to Snapchat by a rather rude nickname that’s a play on another app’s name, but even I’ll admit it’s not just for nudes.)

    7. MissDisplaced*

      So, how exactly do you “connect” with Snapchat? Must you add people from your contact book to send the request to connect?

      I mean, is it possible the guy just clicked on the wrong contact while trying to connect with someone else?
      I personally think it’s a leap to automatically jump to “creepy dude territory” over a single request alone.

      1. Peanut Butter Vibes*

        I think it’s possible, which is why the recommendation wasn’t to go to HR, but I think this is also the exact type of scenario where he could totally gaslight someone for “perceiving it incorrectly”. I think Alison’s advice “this should significantly decrease or remove any benefit of the doubt you or other women there give him in the future” hits the nail on the head. If anything else weird/creepy occurs with him, it’s the second strike, not just another accident.

      2. Legal Beagle*

        It’s like “friending” or following someone on any social media platform. Sure, it’s possible that it was a mistake, but LW doesn’t have an obligation to read in the most favorable interpretation possible. Odds are that it was intentional, and it’s important to validate that women should follow their instincts when guys do things that feel creepy, rather than undermining our judgment with with ‘but what if he’s just accidentally creepy???’
        theoreticals. “Jumping to creepy dude territory” just means that LW will be alert to professional boundaries and look out for future behaviors that may be inappropriate. That’s a smart thing for her to do.

      3. Paperwhite*

        “I personally think it’s a leap to automatically jump to “creepy dude territory” over a single request alone.”

        And then the next incident happens, and it’s ‘a leap to automatically jump… just because of this one incident” which only counts as a single incident because you already discounted the previous one.

        And the next, and the next, and the next, all of which you have found a way to define as a single lone incident. And on until something really egregious happens, such as a Laying On Of Hands or worse, and then your question to the LW will be “why didn’t you do something about him before this?”

        I’ve seen this pattern far too many times. LW, trust your instincts and don’t let the naysayers make you doubt yourself and discount this as “it may be a mistake so it must be a mistake”. That is, quite literally, how people assist this vicious cycle in continuing.

        1. Sacred Ground*

          This is exactly how this guy got to be in his mid-40s and still doesn’t seem to recognize his own behavior as creepy, because all his life people have his excused every single instance of creepiness as just a single instance.

      4. AKchic*

        He may not have meant to send that request out, but he was obviously searching her out. You don’t just randomly happen upon your new coworker who is 10+ years your junior on snapchat (or any other platform) and then cruise her profile/pics between the hours of 11pm-7am. Yes, you could be checking a mutual friend’s comment section and happen upon a similarly-named person’s comment. But from there, you leave it be. You don’t need to know. You don’t check.
        No matter the scenario, he ended up on her profile. He actively sent a friend/connect request. He didn’t try to take it back, which says it’s intentional. That’s a lot of on-purpose steps to take that you can’t brush off as accidental or unintentional.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          So he would have had to specifically look her up ON Snapchat?
          As opposed to the Snapchat APP going through your contact book to ask if you want add them to your Snapchat (What’s App asks for permission to browse all your contacts – and then it sends them a request if you select them).

          I don’t use Snapchat. But a lot of apps want access to your contacts precisely to send out requests to connect.

      5. Stopgap*

        Your comment got cut off. It’s missing the part where you explain how this possibility changes the advice.

    8. EA*

      Hey, OP here. As a 25 year old, my view of Snapchat is something I used a lot more in college when I posted photos of me and my friends maybe at a bar or a party that I didn’t want super public on other social media, so the fact that photos disappear after you post them was great. Now I pretty much use it to send pictures of my dog to my sister and my boyfriend. It absolutely has the reputation as an app that can be used for sexting and can be used by creeps (as I think most people in my age range would agree). I totally get that social media has a lot of nuances and unspoken rules, so a big part of the reason I wrote in was because I didn’t want to jump to conclusion if maybe he was just not tech-savvy/didn’t understand that this was weird. However, Alison and the other comments definitely confirm that I should be on my guard like how I was feeling about it

      1. Ice and Indigo*

        Hi OP!

        Yeah, trust your own instincts; you know him, we don’t. Clearly your mind didn’t go to, ‘Oh, lol, he must have made some kind of silly goof because there’s no way he’d deliberately do something inappropriate,’ and presumably there’s a reason for that.

        At best, he’s careless and unprofessional about avoiding the appearance of creepiness, which is still not good: worrying you enough that you write to AAM is bad management even if he didn’t mean anything by it. And at worst, yeah, he’s creeping. You don’t have to do anything immediate, but you’re not wrong to put your guard up and start documenting.

        (Regarding the fact that Snapchat records screenshots, you could always photograph your screen using a different device. Clunky, but uncomplicated.)

    9. Georgina Fredricka*

      I would just think of it as a visuals-based messaging app, that’s how a lot of people use it. At this point Snapchat and Instagram have a lot of overlap. The “disappearing” part isn’t salacious for most people, just a reality that most people don’t care about saving things.

      1. Georgina Fredricka*

        however if I still used the app I would find a manager request pretty odd. Facebook = okay for work people, but Instagram/Snap/Tiktok is getting more intimate than what makes sense if we barely know each other.

        1. Anne of Mean Gables*

          Honestly, I don’t think a manager should be facebook friend-ing a direct report in the middle of the night or at any other time. I may have stronger work/actual life boundaries than most but that just rubs me the wrong way.

        2. Quill*

          Nope, no facebook for work people! I don’t need the drama of uncle Seymour and my coworker Waukeen both trying to explain the same news story to each other.

          Though I don’t have uncle Seymour as a direct contact, he wanders over via various other relatives resharing, etc. (And I don’t have an uncle Seymour but you get the idea.)

        3. allathian*

          Yeah. I’m not on any social media. I do use WhatsApp because it’s so convenient. I’ve been lazy about setting up a LinkedIn profile, even if I’m aware that I probably should. LinkedIn is pretty much the only social media platform I’d be comfortable to use for connecting with my boss or other coworkers, unless they’re actual friends rather than just work friends. I think my boss and I have a great working relationship, but I keep pretty strict boundaries between work and my private life. I’m not extreme about it, most of my coworkers who’ve ever talked about more than just work with me know that I’m married and have a son in elementary school. Or at the very least, they know I have a son, time goes so fast that last year a coworker I hadn’t seen for a while asked me if my son was in school yet. He was in 4th grade at the time. It was one of those “time flies…” moments and we got a good laugh out of it. I’m also awful at remembering the ages of my coworkers’ kids, so I definitely wasn’t offended at all, only amused to know I’m not the only one.

      2. Paulina*

        I may not care about saving some things, but communications from my boss go into the “save, will likely need to refer to this later” category. The silly uses of snapchat sound fun, and also very unprofessional to be getting from one’s boss. Anything professional is something I may need to check back for.

        A 45-year-old boss should know better than to make such a request, especially when it’s individual and unexpected.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      It’s a messaging app with a disappearing feature that makes pictures and videos inaccessible to the recipients after a period of time, which means you can send dick pics and the victim will have no proof later unless they screenshot them.

      But the app will notify the sender if you save the pic. So basically it’s a perfect setup for harassment.

    11. Tired*

      I think it’s important context to know that, unlike other social media platforms, Snapchat was originally built around a key feature that made it a good platform for sending sexts. Many people don’t use it for anything sexy and just use it as a fun, image-and-video heavy messaging platform with their friends, but friending someone on Snapchat does require a greater level of social intimacy than friending them on other social media platforms.

      It’s like the difference between if your boss invited you to a public happy hour after work vs. if he invited you, personally and only, over to his house for late night dinner and drinks. The latter is not *necessarily* sexy and would be fine for a friend to do, but it’s not appropriate for a boss to do that.

      1. lily*

        I like this comparison. The drinks could be innocent, but even if they are, it’s a higher level of intimacy to be okay with a boss.
        Snapchat mostly isn’t used for sexting, at least in my experience, but it is for friends. And a boss isn’t and shouldn’t be a friend.

    12. ...*

      Its just an app where you can send a photo that disappears after a specified amount of time. Any photo or text app can be used for sexting. Snap chat isn’t a ‘Sexting app’ anymore than text messaging is.

      1. JSPA*

        It’s like a video and photo-optimized chat (i.e. fairly high resolution) app where the default is for the message to disappear, and where the act of saving the message is reported to the sender (unless you “save” by taking a picture of the screen with a different device). None of those things are the default for text messages.

        Sure, it’s also great for pet pix or “look at my lovely lunch” or “should I see a doctor about this rash.”

        But it simply isn’t equivalent to texting, and it absolutely includes default features that have made it a go-to app not only for mutually-appreciated sexting but for unwanted (high res) dick pix and similar harassment.

    13. Lady Heather*

      Thanks for the responses! I think I kind of understand what the big deal yet small deal about work Snapchat is.

      If I understand correctly, it’s a lot closer to a social media platform like Facebook than it is to a texting service like What’s App, which makes it weird for a boss to add a colleague (first layer of weird), in the middle of the night (second layer), and (overarching layer) being that it’s made for quickly-disappearing messages which is not moderately useful for work communication.

      What’s App for work purposes is very common where I live – What’s App is like texting but over the internet, and you can make a group conversation of multiple people – so there would be a group chat with all colleagues in it for things like “Can someone cover x shift?” “Who’s bringing what to the potluck?”. As well as cat pictures and silly comments and two or three people who go off on a long side tangent, all of which serves to annoy most of the group because group chats work best when everyone stays on track.

      I was confused because in my head, either Snapchat was like What’s App (and thus not a big deal) or almost entirely a sexting app (and an invitation to Snapchat would be an invitation to sext, and it would be a way bigger deal than Alison was making it out to be), but there’s a lot more nuance there.

      Thanks for clearing it up for me!
      (I’m comparing Snapchat to Facebook above because it’s the only social media platform I’m vaguely familiar with. I don’t have a frame of reference for Instagram and Twitter and TikTok and other things.)

  3. FashionablyEvil*

    Ew. Definitely make notes about it—it sucks, but if it becomes a pattern of behavior, having documentation will be important. I’m sorry your boss is being a creep/adding to your stress levels!

  4. Person from the Resume*

    Brilliant advice. I whole-heartedly support the “take this as a warning sign and give no benefit of the doubt to this guy in the future.”

  5. Amber Rose*

    I would just pretend it never happened. It shouldn’t have, and if he’s ridiculous enough to bring it up rather than dropping it there, then you can say you assumed it was a mistake because of course you don’t add coworkers, especially managers, to social media.

    Sigh. Creepers be creepin’ and it sucks. Sorry LW.

    1. Amber Rose*

      And when I say pretend it never happened, I mean in your interactions with him. Always remember it happened and be cautious around the dude like Alison said.

    2. LCH*

      “you assumed it was a mistake because of course you don’t add coworkers, especially managers, ***especially in the middle of the night***, to social media.”

      make it all the way uncomfortable.

    3. nonprofit nancy*

      I admit, this is what I would do, even though I’m reluctant to give it as advice bc it feels sad and wrong. But when you have less power, it’s higher-stakes to raise something like this, and better to let him save face until you can’t anymore. If this guy is going to become a problem, it would be better to let him be a problem in some more actionable way – and he will, if he’s really a creeper.

      I would not respond, delete the request, and let him wonder. In the slight chance it was just an error (like how I once “liked” a gross tweet accidentally bc my finger slipped) – then great, no problem, faces saved.

      He may also stop pushing with no sign of interest from you, particularly if he did this to all the interns and some of them accepted and are now engaging with him. You’re “no fun” but that’s fine.

      Sorry this is happening. It has been nearly constant throughout my career.

    4. Wendy Darling*

      At the job I just left (thankfully for totally unrelated reasons) I had a coworker who was like… a borderline creepy dude. He did things that weren’t ACTUALLY boundary violations but were riiiiiight up against the line. He asked questions that were almost but not quite too personal to be appropriate for work… all the time. He made jokes that were almost but not quite too racy for work. He shared facts and opinions that were retrograde but juuuust too mild to actually take offense to. NONSTOP. There was at least one borderline-inappropriate incident literally every time I spoke to him for more than 5 minutes.

      The thing is, he went right up to the edge of acceptability constantly but he somehow never crossed the line. At first I thought he was just clueless and socially awkward. Then I realized that he knew exactly where the line was and he was intentionally hanging out right next to it. He NEVER did anything bad enough to warrant complaining about him, but he always did stuff that was very close to that point. If he didn’t know where the line was, he would have crossed it occasionally. But he never did. And if you wanted to call him out, all you had was a list of a ton of petty-seeming almost-misconduct and you looked like an overreacting harpy.

      Remember when people do something that makes you uncomfortable and look out for a pattern.

      1. Salymander*

        This is why I dislike it when people start in with the whole, “but maybe he didn’t intend to be creepy” nonsense. Most of these people are very aware of where that line is, and they stay right up on it while maintaining plausible deniability and pretending to be clueless. Amazing how many successful, intelligent people are only clueless in this one area. And they often enjoy the way their targets fumble about trying to prove that the behavior is wrongwrongwrong. That is part of the fun for many of these creeps.

        So yeah, this guy should be carefully watched and never trusted. It sucks that the LW has to do the work to deal with this guy’s awfulness, and the burden shouldn’t be on her.

        It is just exhausting and sucky, LW, and I am sorry you have to deal with this crap. At least you are now forewarned. I hope for your sake that this guy feels ashamed and like a dumbass and will leave you alone to do your work in peace just like everyone else.

        1. mrs__peel*

          Yep, and they usually have enough savvy about where “the line” is not to behave that way with someone with more power and authority who could land them in trouble (e.g., a senior manager).

          The fact that they direct it at people who have less power and political capital in the office than they do (i.e., someone who would be taking a big risk by filing a complaint) shows that they know exactly what they’re doing.

        2. MassMatt*

          Right, the creeps never have trouble understanding the line when it comes to someone higher up the hierarchy than they are, or people they aren’t attracted to. No, it only gets lost on people they want to screw, and can screw OVER if things go badly.

    5. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Treat his message like a SnapChat, then. Technically didn’t happen, but easily retrievable all the same.

  6. Myrin*

    I’m not hugely into social media and don’t have any presence on any of them, so I had no idea a middle-of-the-night Snapchat request isn’t just incredibly weird (which is what I would’ve thought had I encountered this situation in the wild) but actually part of the creepster playbook – I’m glad to know!

      1. Tired*

        No, it’s also that it’s Snapchat specifically, because it has a reputation as a platform that can be used for sexting or sending other highly personal messages. Many people don’t use it that way, but it makes it inappropriate for a boss to connect with you on there that’s different from other social media platforms.

        1. Emi.*

          It’s such an incredibly casual platform that it’s still creepy even if it didn’t have a sleazy rep.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          I agree Snapchat is a more casual, and therefore more personal platform, which is an extra level of WTF. I would still feel weird if I got a Facebook or Insta friend request from my boss (especially one that came in overnight) and my male coworker had not also received a friend request, though. If he goes out of his way to become socially familiar with female subordinates but not male, whatever the platform, that’s a red flag.

          I do agree with Allison’s advice. I probably wouldn’t say anything, though I would jot down the date and time somewhere, just in case. I would also keep an eye on him for quite a while. It may turn out to have been a one-off slip, which would be great, but I still don’t know that I would ever 100% trust him, which sucks.

      2. Batgirl*

        It’s also a very specific thing guys do to let you know that while they do not have very much to say but are *thinking of you* at 2am.
        It’s always That Guy(tm) or someone you don’t know particularly well.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes. The 2 am SnapChat request from That Guy(tm) may not be objectionable per se, but everyone knows it’s creepy, just like “WYD” or “u up,” at 2 am. That is 100% a dude hoping for nudes or nookie.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            “U up?” is the exact phrase that came to my mind when I read this letter. Battle cry of the f*ckboy.

    1. Important Moi*

      It’s late in the day, so you may not see this, Myrin. Technology changes but people stay the same.

      If rotary phones were the latest technology, a phone call at 11 p;.m. would still be wrong. It not about the medium, it’s the action.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        Sometime around the mid-2000’s, before smartphones and texting were common, I gave my cell number to a man I kind of liked, who I had been seeing around for years.
        Within a day or so I got up one morning and found he had called at 2am.
        I did not call him back.

    2. memyselfandi*

      Thanks, Myrin, for your post. I was in the same place. If a colleague had asked me for advice on something like this I would have sensed it wasn’t good on the basis of middle of the night and general terms about social media in the workplace. Always good to learn something new – even if it is about creepsters.

  7. BigTenProfessor*

    Yeah, there is maybe some universe where the guy just happened to sync his contacts and requested a whole bunch of folks or whatever, but that’s a vanishingly slim possibility AND, if that’s really the case, then nothing weird ever happens again and that’s that. But she hasn’t known him long enough to have the sort of data points to call this a one-off “oops,” so for now, it goes in the creepy column.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I am completely on the same page. I will give him a VERY slim possibility that happened, but the far more likely scenario is that he’s a letch.

    2. Czhorat*

      That it went to him and not to male co-workers makes this unlikely.

      I’m normally one to give benefit of the doubt, but there’s not much doubt here.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. If it were an innocent glitch, the male coworkers would have been included in this request, but weren’t. And like BigTenProfessor said, OP doesn’t have enough of a relationship with this guy to really be sure this is in fact just an odd one-off situation, so no – he’s definitely being a creep.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “If it were an innocent glitch, the male coworkers would have been included in this request, but weren’t.” That’s what I was thinking too. I could see the middle of the night thing if maybe he has insomnia and works at night, but then the male coworker would have been included.

      2. feministbookworm*

        unless that male coworker doesn’t have snapchat (sounds like OP asked generally about social media, not specifically about snapchat). I agree that it’s unlikely, and this guy is on thin ice. The “oops that was awkward, did you accidentally add everyone?” is a line she could potentially use with him as a “I see you, and I am generously offering you the benefit of the doubt this ONE time”

    3. Observer*

      No. Why would this guy have HER contact information in his address book, but not the information about a GUY in the office?

      1. Mockingjay*

        Snapchat’s algorithms identify and suggest potential “friends” the same way FB and other social media apps do, through common metadata – friends of friends, same workplace, liking and comments on the same posts.

        In this case, with a middle of the night request – he was looking specifically for her. Ugh.

        1. Observer*

          Well, the only metadata that would be likely to connect them is the employer – who is also the employer of the coworker. So…

      2. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

        The only thing I could think is that he has both people’s information in his address book, but only the LW has Snapchat. Still – there’s nothing to suggest that’s the case over the boss’s potentially being a creep. If it was “innocent”, time will prove that out when he doesn’t behave creepily in other ways.

      3. MissDisplaced*

        I don’t have all of my coworkers in my address book. Only a couple I many need to call when traveling.
        Not odd at all.

        In fact, I had to add them all in order for us all to use a group What’s App during a trade show.

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I might be willing to pretend I believe it happened as an accident while he was syncing his contacts, and pretend it publicly to allow him to save face.

      Given the rest of the context (especially with the male coworker not being added), I’d privately file it under “creepy things about [manager]”.

    5. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Very slim, since it didn’t happen to male coworker. I’d check with one female coworker, though and see what’s up.

      1. JSPA*

        You’d have to find out if they have snapchat, and if that profile is linked to their phone. If male coworker and other female have snapchat, and it’s equally discoverable, then it’s clearer; but it’s going to be awkward to dig for that information without crossing some boundaries of your own.

        I therefore second the idea, “nothing actionable here, but have your eye on him.”

    6. Double A*

      This is where the advice to say, “Oh, I saw your Snapchat request, but I only use that to connect with friends” is really useful.

      If he reacts with genuine confusion followed by contrition about the request because it somehow was some kind of glitch, then great! Air cleared.

      Any other reaction and you’ve confirmed he’s creeping.

      So this possibility doesn’t change how she should act, except perhaps erring on the side of casually mentioning it.

    7. c828*

      All I will say is that it’s easy to accidentally add someone as a friend on Snapchat, just one errant tap when you’re looking at contacts to add. I say this as someone who has done it. Not saying that is the case here.

  8. AMK*

    Snapchat as a weird feature that connects you with everyone in your contacts when you sign up if you are not careful. I’m guessing your manager signed up for Snapchat and then accidentally invited everyone to connect.

      1. Annony*

        Does he have snapchat? I would probably ask around more broadly both to see if he sent those requests more broadly and this one coworker was an oversight but also because it lets other coworkers know what he did. I strongly suspect it was creepy behavior but approaching it as a question can make it easier to broach the subject (“Hey, new boss sent me a snap chat request last night which made me pretty uncomfortable. Did he send you one?”).

      2. Hills to Die on*

        I suppose it could be a matter who he has in his contacts and he’s new so maybe he doesn’t have everyone in yet….but it’s a stretch now. I mean, I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but also actions speak louder than words, so….proceed with caution.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          And in the vein, I wonder if it’s worth saying to him, ‘hey, it looks like your phone must have tried to sync your contacts to Snapchat and I wanted to let you know so you don’t give people the wrong impression.’ Because of COURSE he would never do something so creepy and also if it was deliberate, you’re on to him being a creep. That way if it truly was an accident he can fix it. OP won’t really know the difference if he apologizes (was it because he got called out or because he really didn’t mean to) but she sets the baseline for what behavior she expects from him.
          That’s probably what I’d do.

          1. Lynn*

            That’s a great script. It addresses the issue but gives him a graceful out while at the same time firmly establishing that she will not be adding him.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I like this phrasing.

            The only way this is not creepy is if it was a complete accident and as someone who has never used Snapchat, I have no idea if that is possible (plausible is a whole other story).

          3. Diahann Carroll*

            I would probably say something like this because it lets him know (in the event that he was being intentionally inappropriate) that I know what’s up, and I think it’s wrong.

      1. Drew*

        Coworker might not have Snapchat connected to the contact info Boss would have in his contacts. I’m 50/50 on whether this was creepy or accidental. I’m an 28-year-old digital native and Snapchat is the first piece of technology that I feel old using every time a youth wants to “Snap” me, because I can’t figure out how it works and am constantly afraid of doing something wrong on it.

        1. Observer*


          There is no reasonable, non-creepy reason that he has the contact information of a young FEMALE coworker in his personal contact but does not have that same information for a MALE coworker.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This! Why would he only have a female employee’s info in his personal phone, but not a male employee’s? He intentionally added the OP’s info and not the other guy. It’s weird and inappropriate.

            1. JSPA*

              If he has the EXACT same level of information on each of them…but only the OP has an active snapchat account linked to that public information…then only OP will show up (or be automatically synched if he hits a button to automatically sync).

              Or rather, he probably also hit up his dentist, or his vet’s spouse, or the pool guy, or three potential clients (i.e. anyone else who happens to have an active snapchat account linked to the same phone number that’s saved in his phone) but he may not know that, yet.

              That’s why dealing with it as, “hope there wasn’t too much fallout from your snapchat sync accident” is a reasonable way to go. If that’s what happened, it’s good for everyone to find out. If that’s not what happened, he’s put on notice that there’s no other legitimate explanation.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            But the male co-worker may not be on Snapchat. OP asked the co-worker about ‘any social media platforms’, we don’t know if co-worker has Snapchat.

            I don’t buy it, but that’s the line of thinking people are going down.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Drew is saying the other co-worker(s) may not have Snap chat to sync if the app ‘did something.”
            It does make a way to give boss an “out” while still putting him on notice that it was not subtle.
            Best of all? This script could/should be used in a group context so it becomes common knowledge all at once.

        2. Mel_05*

          If it works the way linkedin does, it doesn’t matter if he’s connected on snap. It’ll just send the connect request to his email.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            OTOH, if it’s works the way Line or Kakaotalk does, it tries to add people in your contacts who also have the app and ignores the people in your contacts who don’t have the app. In that case, if the male coworker doesn’t have Snapchat, he would not have been sent a request to connect.

            I’m *not* saying that’s what happened here–I don’t have Snapchat so I don’t know how it works with contacts, and my money is on him being creepy–but it is *possible.* I think the OP should treat this as suggested by others: keep in mind that it’s possible that he wasn’t being a creep, but also know that he could be, and be very aware of the potential for future creepy behavior.

            1. pope suburban*

              Yeah, if it was one of those obnoxious auto-connect features, then ignoring it will be a kindness to everyone involved. If not, well, his behavior will tell you more. Right now, I think it’s enough to be on alert and trust your gut. It’s disappointingly likely that this is A Thing, but there’s no need to borrow trouble by making up a ton of scenarios. Trust yourself, keep your eyes peeled, and know that it is 100% right to act if/when he reveals himself to be inappropriate.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            And if he’s like me and has a separate personal email account for job hunting purposes? He won’t get that Snapchat invite for months. If he has unsolicited emails going to spam, he might never get it.
            ( I see how it could happen, but it’s Schrodinger’s Snapchat invite… I’d assume I need to be alert around him.)

          3. JSPA*

            IMO, Linked In is more demanding in that way than just about any other app that people put up with. I failed at deleting it years ago, or it’d have been gone, years ago.

      2. Amy*

        I’m always continously amazed by men who think this is going to get them somewhere, although I know there are women who do let them get away with it so that’s why they keep doing it. At this point in my life, I give absolutely no one the benefit of the doubt because it has massively bit me in the ass more than once. What pretending it never happened usually gets you is a man who feels emboldened because you didn’t state a very firm boundary and he didn’t get in trouble. People don’t learn lessons it there’s no consequences, I’ve learned my lesson and it’s that if you don’t report people like this they will increasingly creep as time goes on. This is coming from a woman who’s had to show dick pics to HR because I didn’t immediately shut it down the first time a guy went through personnel paperwork to get my information.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          What pretending it never happened usually gets you is a man who feels emboldened because you didn’t state a very firm boundary and he didn’t get in trouble.

          Yup, this. I would say something to him to let him know I know what he’s doing and it’s not remotely okay.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            New manager, power differential – I’d be pretty cautious about that. I would document, and at *any* other sign, I’d be at HR immediately.

            1. nonprofit nancy*

              Yeah in my experience if you pretend it never happens, he assumes the app didn’t notify you or you don’t use it very much of perhaps it’s not really your account. That means if he wants to creep, he has to try again. This gives you more chances to build your case.

        2. Batgirl*

          They know exactly what they’re doing which is why they just build in just enough plausible deniability in case they ARE called out.

        3. mrs__peel*

          Not thrilled with the framing here that men only do this sort of thing because women “let” them get away with it. Men who do this are 100% responsible for their own behavior, whether a woman eventually reports them or not.

          There are plenty of *very* good reasons why many women don’t feel secure enough to report sexual harassment at work. Retaliation unfortunately often happens in the real world, as does getting fired for “making a fuss”. Reporting doesn’t necessarily = no escalation.

          1. Amy*

            I agree that creeps are totally responsible for their behavior. However, what I have a problem with is when they’re treated like the missing stair and everyone knows about it but no one does anything. In my dick pic scenario, he had been doing this to other women for literally years before I got there and the only reason I went to HR is because when I shut him down he tried spreading rumors that I was dating our boss and getting preferential treatment. That was a man that had gotten away with it for so long he didn’t know where to stop. I don’t have to work so I’m not worried about losing my job to stand up to some jerk who thinks work is his personal harassment playground. Once I went to HR and had a foreman backing me up, tons of women started coming forward saying he had done the exact same thing to them and they walked him out that afternoon. Nothing changes if no one says anything and that’s exactly what they are counting on.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              “…they walked him out that afternoon.”

              This is beautiful! It’s SO nice to hear about a case where the bad guys did NOT win and to know that things can actually turn out this way!

    1. Miss Meghan*

      Except that the coworker wasn’t added, which I think would have happened if it mass added contacts. I agree there may be an explanation with no ill intent, but I think on its face it’s so textbook creepy dude behavior that it’s on the manager to get out ahead and explain, and it’s kind of telling if he doesn’t.

      1. Drew*

        The manager may not know that it happened, or that it’s “textbook creepy,” as several other commenters who are out of touch with Snapchat culture have attested to. I would find it far creepier if my boss brought up his Snapchat invite to me (like he’s backpedaling after the request wasn’t accepted).

        1. Anononon*

          The only comments I’m seeing where the commenters aren’t aware of “Snapchat culture” are the ones who don’t have/know what Snapchat is. The manager has Snapchat so presumably he’s aware of how it works. It’s not a common social media for people to have without knowing the implications.

          1. boop the first*

            I agree… would someone who isn’t tech savvy skip right over facebook/twitter and dive straight into snapchat requests?

        2. Lobsterp0t*

          Well, maybe if Middle Aged Male Manager doesn’t know how an image-sharing-based social media platform works, his junior female staffers aren’t his first port of call for reenacting the “Hello Fellow Kids” GIF.

          Maybe he can try it out and get a feel for it with someone in his personal social circle.

        3. Batgirl*

          If he wasn’t being creepy what the hell WAS he doing? He couldn’t sleep in case OP wanted to exchange some visual metaphors? He’s a thoughtless child? He doesn’t realise that late night messages (Of any kind) from a boss are intrusive and send a message? He’s in his forties and a manager; how socially and professionally clueless could he possibly be?

    2. Observer*

      Thanks for a perfect example of one of the reasons why women have such a hard time dealing with harassment.

      Other than that, your attempt to justify clearly bad behavior is unhelpful at best and actively harmful at worst.

      Also, if you want to know why your excuse is just not possible, it requires there to be a good reason why HER personal contact information is in his *personal* contact list while the information for the OP’s MALE coworker somehow was not in that same contact list.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        AMK did realize that OP writes that other employees were not contacted and revised the comment to “nope, just creepy.”

          1. AMK*

            Yeah, I totally missed the part about other coworkers not getting the request. Something similar to this happened to me (at the time late 20s female)- one of my coworkers (30s female) downloaded Snapchat to use on a trip with friends and accidentally sent everyone in her contacts a Snapchat request (including me). I thought it was weird and checked with another coworker and they confirmed they too got a request, so we let our coworker know. It was to totally harmless and she was mortified. If it was that easy for her to do without realizing it, I figured she wasn’t the only one to make this mistake. But since other people didn’t get the request it is totally not the same situation and is indeed very creepy. If everyone had gotten a request I would have said to just ask about it (like I did), but again, this is definitely not the case.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        It’s not far off the ‘I was doing the washing up while unclothed and slipped and fell backwards onto my phone and it took a photo of my junk and sent it to my coworker but it was an accident!’

        (Heard it. Didn’t believe it)

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Yeah, but you can still butt dial anyone anytime on your recent calls. And it is weird to get those.
          Or misdials that ring once until the person realizes it and hangs up at 2am.

      3. Old Drew*

        I am annoyed that someone making comments like this has bogarted my usual pseudonym. Other Drew, you’re making us both look bad.

    3. another Hero*

      Snapchat will sometimes randomly suggest that you connect with someone if you have that feature on – OP could have been suggested and the coworker not. But I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt about it. First because the odds that the app just suggested the junior female colleague are low. But mostly. No one who uses snapchat thinks it’s a way to connect with coworkers!! If the best case is that a weird coincidence happened and he just didn’t realize it might look off to try and connect with a junior female colleague on an app infamous for unsolicited dick pics, like, the best case is he has real bad judgment.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Just because the app suggests someone to you as a connection doesn’t obligate you to make the connection.
        I get suggestions like this all the time on my various social media. I delete/move on. Manager could certainly have done the same.

        1. another Hero*

          no I completely agree! there’s no point in connecting with coworkers on snapchat at all, and it’s definitely out of line for him to seek a connection with a junior, female colleague on the dick pic app whether he did it maliciously or thoughtlessly.

      2. Anonosaurus*

        I don’t use snapchat but Facebook recently suggested I friend a much younger, more junior co-worker of the opposite sex (someone I am vaguely friendly with, in an appropriate way, but who is not an actual friend) – and guess what, I didn’t click “add friend’ because I thought it would be inappropriate. If he friended me I would accept the request, but I’m generally really careful about adding co-workers on social media generally, other than LinkedIn.

  9. SMcG*

    Just wondering if in the original letter, the OP identified their gender? As posted, it’s not actually clear from the OP…although creepy no matter what the gender.

      1. SMcG*

        Thanks for clarifying! And I am sorry you have to deal with this crap. As if life isn’t generally stressful enough right now. I wish you the best.

        1. AppleStan*

          Right on.

          If you haven’t yet, OP/EA, you should read “The Gift of Fear.” It’s all about trusting your instincts and how your subconscious can pick up on little tiny things that give you an unsettled feeling – but since you can’t figure out why, you dismiss it, often to your detriment.

          Now, this one is definitely not your subconscious…but it’s still a fantastic read.

          1. Sylvia*

            I second! This is a fabulous book! It tells countless stories of women who dismissed red flags as “well, he probably didn’t mean it like that…”, only for them to realize later that they should have listened to their gut.

  10. The Original K.*

    Definitely creepy. If y’all are in a line of work where it’s normal or expected that you’ll be connected on social media (marketing, communications), he’d have connected with everyone, probably not done so in the middle of the night, and connected on all the platforms, not just Snapchat. I agree with Alison – treat him as though he’s behaving like a creep, because he is. No benefit of the doubt for him.

  11. Amethystmoon*

    Has the manager done other odd things in the middle of the night, like send weird e-mails? It’s possible this was an accident, especially if the manager is not normally up on technology.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      It strikes me as odd that older dudes never “accidentally” message or stare or creep on other dudes, their bosses, and such. They always seem to “accidentally” do so with their junior female colleagues.

      1. The Original K.*

        To paraphrase something I heard recently, the benefit of the doubt is very prejudiced. It’s freely granted to some and not granted at all to others.

      2. Sam*

        Or men just don’t read the behavior as creepy, because we (largely) haven’t been the victims of men’s creepy behavior and aren’t on alert for it as much as women unfortunately have to me.

        1. Batgirl*

          I’ve known men who don’t confidently READ it as creepy, because as you say, they can be naive and not have the experience to go on.
          However they are uncomfortably baffled, and FEEL its off, which is also how a woman feels first time she gets one of those messages.

          1. Quill*

            A fully functioning creepdar is something that people tend to develop after they’ve had to deal with a creep…

              1. Quill*

                And then you have to hire a therapist to recalibrate it because calibration technicians don’t do house calls.

      3. Salymander*

        Yeah, if these dudes are “socially awkward” to the point of making women really uncomfortable or afraid, how do they remain employed or even just live their lives without constant problems (that might clue them in). And if they are “not tech savvy” to the point of appearing to be creeps on social media entirely by accident, how do they manage to hold down a job that requires lots of social media use (like middle of the night Snapchat “meetings”).

        The benefit of the doubt is generously bestowed on creepers, but the women they creep on who call this behavior out are often distrusted or portrayed as troublemakers, mentally ill, or greedy for a pay out.

        I know that, in a court of law, people must be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But this isn’t a court of law.

    2. EA*

      Hi, OP here. No, so far nothing else in the couple months I’ve worked with him. I’ve also had the thought “okay, maybe he’s not tech-savvy and doesn’t realize how weird this is”, but the fact that he hasn’t added my male coworker on any social platform who is his only other direct report sends red flags for me.

      1. Anon for this*

        That is big red flags OP.

        Story time: I was once contacted by a former work term student who I had a good working relationship with out of the blue one day asking for advice because her senior male colleague had sent a d*ck pic to her and another junior female colleague. This guy was super well liked in the office, was much senior to them and she was afraid of speaking up because she was concerned about how they would be treated in the office should anything happen to this guy if they complained(male dominated industry). I am forever grateful that she felt comfortable reaching out to me (her former supervisor) for advice and that I was able to guide her through the process of how to reach out to HR and deal with the situation because this is not something a 19/20 year old should have to deal with on their own.

        The point of this is to say trust your instincts and this is why women are justifiably creeped out by requests like this.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        I think for Snapchat, it’s just not really used for the mid-40s and up generation. There are some exceptions like those posted by people who use it to keep in touch with their family, but it is much more rare than that age group using Facebook or Instagram, for instance.
        Snapchat has always been, to me, for much younger people. And I would feel weird going on Snapchat in the first place, unless someone from that group invited me for a specific purpose. Even then, I wouldn’t add people from my work, especially not people I manage. I think a co-worker on your same level would’ve been weird. From a manager, it just is so far out of the norm. A co-worker asking to friend you on FB or IG would not be that big of a deal, IF it was apparent that you already friended a lot of people at work. A manager doing it is very strange.
        That said, I wouldn’t respond, or if you can reject the request, do that. I wouldn’t mention it to him, but yeah, maybe keep your ears and eyes open around him.
        I’ve friended many people from work and they’ve friended me on FB/IG. I’ve never thought about the time that I would be doing the friend request. I think it’s strange that the time he did it is an issue. Everything else is an issue, but the timing doesn’t seem like a big deal.

    3. Threeve*

      A coworker in another department once texted my boss at 1am with a very unsubtle invitation to come over to his apartment. It was pretty clear that it was a matter of clicking the wrong name in their contact lists after too much drinking (based on several factors, including sexual orientation and the fact that they are barely on a first-name basis).

      It’s not that is wasn’t problematic–it was definitely Not Okay, and coworker’s drinking was obviously becoming a problem–but it also wasn’t deliberate sexual harassment.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, accidents do happen, although I’m less forgiving of accidents that happen when someone’s judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs than if they happen for other reasons, like a manic episode or fever-induced delirium (that’s happened to me once and it was actually pretty cool while it happened, but I was a bit frightened afterwards, because I’ve never been so out of it for any reason, not even while drunk). Accidents like this do demand a sincere apology, though, preferably unprompted.

    4. knead me seymour*

      The thing is, it’s not like the OP is going to throw tomatoes at him in the town square if she decides he’s a creep. It’s just good intel to be on guard around him and watch for signs of other creepy behaviour. There’s no good reason to find excuses for him–if it was just an innocent mistake, then presumably he won’t do anything creepy again and it’ll be a non-issue.

  12. WellRed*

    I recently accidentally facetime called my former, much older, male boss. luckily, he was asleep, but did check in with me the next day saying “I assume you didn’t mean to sen this, but thought I’d call.” so embrassing.

    1. Diotima*

      One time a friend of mine accidentally sent her boss a text reading “GOOD MORNING I LOVE YOU TOO!!” to her boss, meant for her partner obviously. She followed up with two texts about how embarrassed she was. Mortifying, but in the end they all laughed.

  13. OrigCassandra*

    I’d add one more thing to Alison’s advice, in an abundance of caution: If you still can, OP, screenshot or otherwise preserve a copy of the request.

    I hope you won’t need it, but better to not need it and have it than…

    1. Ominous Adversary*

      YES. I don’t know how the Snapchats work but if there is anyway to show what requests you have received – or if his request is still hanging out there unanswered – take a screenshot of it.

      If all goes well then he’ll pretend it never happened and you can delete it later on. But if he turns out to keep creeping, you will have solid evidence of when he started.

    2. Aza*

      Yes! I was also thinking this! Especially if there’s a way to include the time stamp. I’d screenshot or pdf everything, just in case you need to build a case with HR in the future.

  14. aepyornis*

    I work in a field where connecting on social media with your professional network is the norm (think along the lines of a journalist following other journalists on Twitter) and I’m connected with direct reports (who I let add me and who I do not add myself), former students, people from my field I don’t personally know, etc. (needless to say 99% of my posts are tied to my job and the remaining 1% is humour) and I certainly would not consider a middle-of-the-night Snapchat request ok. Yes there might be a (very, very slim) chance that this is someone who isn’t clued up about social media norms and about who you are supposed to connect with or not, but if that’s really the case, they also might need to learn (even the tough way) that not every interaction on social media (or every connection request) is ok.
    OP, I would not leave it hanging and say to him that you only connect with friends on social media, which is also are pretty elegant way of telling him where he stands in case he has any doubt about the kind of connection he could be making with you.

    1. Bostonian*

      You know, this is a good point. At first, I thought it would be best to ignore the request like it didn’t happen. However, sometimes creepers do creepy things incrementally to see what they can get away with. So by telling him that she doesn’t connect with coworkers on social media (or on snapchat, whichever is true), could be a non-confrontational way of indicating her boundaries.

      1. aepyornis*

        I think all too often creepers benefit from the fact that the receivers of their embarrassment just keep the embarrassment and the doubts (was it really creepy? was it a misunderstanding? am I too sensitive?) and that it makes sense to bounce it off back to them… otherwise you have a pattern where the line becomes super difficult to draw (I haven’t said anything when x happened, wouldn’t it be odd to speak when y happens?). Whereas here, if you address it politely, it is on him to explain his behaviour and to, legitimately, feel embarrassed about it.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      OP, I would not leave it hanging and say to him that you only connect with friends on social media, which is also are pretty elegant way of telling him where he stands in case he has any doubt about the kind of connection he could be making with you.

      OP, do this. Ignoring it won’t shut this behavior down, trust me.

    3. Batgirl*

      Same. When I was a reporter I had all kinds of people from all fields adding me here, there and everywhere. The ONLY time I got middle of the night requests it was always from male colleagues who used social media alldaylong and that it was for creepy reasons was immediately apparent. It was only when I was going through a divorce/they or I were new and the hint was always followed up more directly in person. Gross.

  15. Grace*

    I’m currently working with an older male who has yellow fever and it’s making me so uncomfortable. During a meeting with him, my mgr and me, he only addressed me and asked me questions throughout. He said things like, “What do you think? I really want YOUR perspective!!” Meanwhile I’m new at this job and my mgr has been there eons. It was so awkward that I tried to deflect to my boss a few times who just sat there. Anytime I see an email come across w/his name on it I cringe. And today I have a video mtg w/him but I’m totally not turning on my camera ughhh.

    1. kaittydidd*

      Smart. Your story reminds me of a guy at my office with the same affliction. He has a reputation, and we all keep an eye on him around the entry level employees.

      1. JSPA*

        google “missing stair” and think about whether it’s appropriate to keep someone who has to be “minded.”

        You’re not doing 24/7 surveilance, I presume.

        But 24/7, he is above the entry level employees in rank and in seniority. And probably has their contact information.

        Direct Conclusions:

        1. they remain at risk of harassment from him.
        2. this is a situation many people know about, and choose to “manage” by “overseeing” or interceding.

        Indirect conclusions:
        1. That miserable for the entry level employees in question.
        2. That’s also a solid lawsuit waiting to happen.

    2. Anon 75*

      Removed. We can trust her own perspective on her own life. Please don’t dismiss what people say about the racism and/or sexism they have to put up with as if you are somehow more knowledgeable about it than they are! – Alison

  16. AndersonDarling*

    I was at a company that had 2 Snapchat issues. One male director had a bunch of young female employees on his Snapchat and he was fired. I never found out what exactly was sent.
    The other instance was also a male director who had an affair with a younger female employee and she used the Snapchats as blackmail. It eventually blew up and both were asked to leave their jobs.
    A part of me is a bit proud of the second employee turning the tables on the director. It’s all gross, but it’s nice to hear a different ending to these kinds of stories.

  17. Boogaloo*

    Great answer Alison. I really appreciate your note describing why this seemingly minor event cannot be brushed aside, and why it affects the manager/employee relationship moving forward. This stuff sure is exhausting!

  18. Donna*

    Shroedinger’s sexual harasser is trying to maintain plausible deniability, so you can feel free do the same. Maybe take a screenshot of the request before you delete it, in case other stuff comes up and you want to have the evidence to show the beginning of the pattern of behaviour. There is a super slim chance that this was an accident — I once got an instagram request from a boss who had fired me and hadn’t contacted me out in 2 years. I’m postitive he didn’t do it on purpose and probably didn’t even realize he had done it at all. If your coworker fat-fingered something on his phone, it’s possible he didn’t realize he’d done it either.

    I don’t think there’s a need to talk to him, unless you feel comfortable doing so. Alison’s script is great, and if he did it on purpose it lets him know that he’s not going to be able to try any grey area tricks with you. If he brings it up first then I’d definitely shut him down, but I think the most likely outcome is that, whether or not he did it on purpose, ignoring him makes this whole thing go away.

  19. Mazzy*

    I’m surprised this hasn’t been brought up yet: is Snap one of those sites that sends requests without you knowing? I know from experience that Facebook sends chat or friend requests without you initiating them. Maybe Snap does the same thing to people it views as in your circle? There must be some sort of algorithm where if you have enough common friends, it generates a request. Any chance snap is using the same thing?

    And to the person above who said “do you know what google is,” seriously, some people just aren’t big into social media. It’s ironic that some people insist everyone knows all of these apps, and then they describe what they do, and it’s text messaging. Well, older people probably just text message via text message

    1. old curmudgeon*

      And some of us don’t even own cell phones, don’t text, don’t social-media or any of the rest of it. Even some of us who have degrees and who work in complex fields.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      It doesn’t automatically request. It does import your contacts and *suggests* your contacts if their phone number has a snapchat account, so for example, I get suggested to friend that one person I worked with for a group project two semesters ago…. but it won’t actively push requests to anyone unless you do it. The manager was creepin’.

      1. Youngin*


        Facebook nor instagram nor twiter will automatically send a friend request. YOU may accidentally send it and not realize it, but the algorithm isn’t going to, essentially, force you to be friends with other people you may or may not know

    3. Observer*

      It’s been brought up more than once, and it’s infuriating. Because the only way this works, even in theory, is if both the OP (female) *and* her male coworker got the requests. Which he didn’t.

      1. Mazzy*

        Sorry it’s not infuriating to bring it up if other applications do it. I’ve 100% have had friend requests go out I didn’t send on Facebook, and I’ve also suddenly gotten requests from people from HS I haven’t seen in 25 years, as soon as I friended mutual contacts. At first I thought it was coincidence, but then I noticed the requests from mutual contacts came in like clockwork and realized something else must be at play. And I also had a rude “can you delete me from your chat list since we don’t know eachother” from someone I met at a wedding and had friended me, so that pretty much told me that they hadn’t sent the request. We only met briefly and it was completely reasonable to believe that they had forgotten me, but facebook had generated the request because we had mutual contacts.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s actively harmful to women when people go out of their way to find “well maybe…” excuses for why a guy’s behavior might not be creepy, when it most likely is. If you want to do that, can you explain specifically how it would change your advice to the LW?

        2. Observer*

          It’s infuriating, because EVEN IF THE APP DOES THAT, it still doesn’t change anything. Because the only way it can do this is if you have an address in the address book that you use for the app. And there is simply no good reason for him to have the address of his YOUNG FEMALE employee in his personal social media connected account, but NOT have the same for the MALE coworker.

        3. Mockingjay*

          Algorithms in social media apps are invasive, but you can adjust your device settings to block most of that. Even if your contacts are imported, you can still turn off access.

          As I said above, looking at the timing of the request limited to a specific junior female employee – he was deliberately seeking her out.

    4. Meganly*

      Facebook doesn’t send automatic friend requests… there is a list of “People You May Know” that pops up. Perhaps you accidentally tapped the Add Friend button.

  20. Grey*

    managers have an obligation not to seem like they’re creeping on the women they manage.

    I feel like I have this obligation with all women, but this is definitely underscored for the ones I manage.

    1. Soma from Germany*

      I feel like I have this obligation with all women, but this is definitely underscored for the ones I manage.

      But this means you connect nearly all with men and not women? This sounds to me, like the male manager who will not have dinner with women (like your religious vice president) but will have dinner with men. It hurts women when they have not social and business connections.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Not being creepy doesn’t mean you can’t meet with, dine with, or socialize with women at work. It just means you need to do it without hitting on them.

  21. Brett*

    I think it is important to mention it rather than ignore it.
    If this is a creepster move, calling it out will help shut down future actions.
    If it was an accidental request (e.g. accidentally sending to his contacts) or done intentionally but without ill intent, then it is also important that he is aware of what he did and how that looks so he can limit any damage it might have caused elsewhere.
    I will also add a third possibility, that it was not him. Mid-40s is not exactly a target demographic for snapchat, and it is possible someone is spoofing him (is the OPs connection to her boss publicly available elsewhere, like on LinkedIn?). One scary weakness of snapchat is that it is trivial to spoof people extensively. If that’s the case, then it is certainly important that he knows what has happened.

    1. Observer*

      done intentionally but without ill intent,

      Not really possible. Even if her was not twirling his mustache with an evil cackle, he had to know that he’s crossing boundaries. If her REALLY is one of those (unicorn level) rare guys who just “don’t realize”, then mentioning is not going to get anywhere. He’s going to need a total slapdown to get the message across.

      1. Brett*

        True, it would still be boundary crossing. Just pointing out that the boundary might be “being friendly with direct reports” rather than “creeping on direct reports”.

        I would be a lot more concerned about the possibility that there is a different creeper or scammer involved who is spoofing the boss. I know it is more common on facebook and linkedin, but I have run into a large amount of scammers spoofing co-workers.

        1. Anononon*

          “being friendly with femaledirect reports”

          I fixed that for you.

          Also, I’m know I’m making an assumption based on your user name, but are you a guy? I’m asking because I’m wondering if you’ve had different experiences from women who are commenting on this. My experience (and I would guess that of many women as well) is that it’s much more likely to get a creepy friend request from an actual male coworker rather than a scam friend request.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes. Men, I’m going to ask that you not second-guess all the women commenting here who have decades of direct experience dealing with this (which men generally do not).

          2. Brett*

            You are right. I am viewing this through my lens of experience, where most people have criminal intent, which is wrong.

        2. Brett*

          For context, I used to work for a police department in a higher visibility role, which made me a prime target for this type of social media scamming. So I am probably overly paranoid about this possibility compared to most people.

    2. Youngin*

      “I will also add a third possibility, that it was not him”

      You would rather invent a whole other 3rd person than believe women for telling you this is a very common, and creepy thing men do, constantly?

  22. FormerTVGirl*

    I have found that, in these situations, you should always trust your gut. OP, if it feels creepy to you, it’s most likely legitimately creepy or “off.” I say this as someone who has spent many years in a male-dominated industry — multiple men in senior positions did things that felt “creepy” to me, especially when I was more junior, and most of them eventually tried to escalated. I’m sorry this is happening to you.

  23. Veryanon*

    Yep, creepy. Managers shouldn’t be “friending” their employees on any personal social media platforms (I think LinkedIn is probably ok). The fact that he sent it late at night and only to LW? Definitely worrisome. Back when I was still a young woman new to the workforce, I probably would have ignored it, but now? I’d straight up say “Hey, please don’t send me any more snapchat invites as I only use it for personal stuff.”
    Time to put the burden of not being creepy back onto the creepsters.

    1. Van Wilder*

      I like the idea of ignoring it and letting his sober, daytime self wonder if she saw it, if she’s intentionally ignoring it, if she’s ignoring it because she thinks it’s creepy, if she’s ignoring it because of professional boundaries, and hopefully letting his insecurities eat away at himself. But I’m an idealist.

      1. nonprofit nancy*

        Yeah, this is how I deal with it myself. I totally understand people saying OP should be direct and bring it up with him, and I respect that, but just for myself, I would not – but I wouldn’t feel cowed either, I’d hope that if was trying to be gross he was now tortured wondering what I was thinking where in actuality my thought was “hmm, another gross dude in the workplace, I shall ignore this entirely.”

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        I rather suspect he is more thinking that he has made her uneasy and is delighting in it instead of him feeling uneasy.

  24. KHB*

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately. Women will never truly have opportunities equal to men – in the workplace or in life – if we can’t relate to our male colleagues on the same terms as they relate to one another. As long as some men out there are creeps – or semi-creeps who know how to make us uncomfortable while maintaining just enough plausible deniability to stay on the good side of HR – we have to be on our guard against them, and that takes up a little bit of our mental real estate that we could be using for more productive things. And the longer this goes on (at least, in my Gen-X experience), the more it poisons our interactions with all men, even the good ones, because you never know who’s going to read too much into a friendly chitchat and get the wrong idea.

    So please don’t be afraid of making this into a big deal. Because it is a big deal.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Hear, hear.

      “thus foregoing the professional benefits of getting to know your boss better in an informal setting”

      Yeah, over drinks, so he can get to know you informally in bed, is what I was thinking reading that. Terrible idea to socialize with someone like this alone!

      1. KHB*

        So, when I was 16, I got a secret-admirer gift from a male soon-to-be classmate who had never laid eyes on me – all he knew about me was my female name. At the time, it seemed like the sweetest thing (I didn’t have much experience with boys), but in hindsight, yuck. What kind of boy decides to start making his moves on a girl based on nothing but her name? (Answer: One who’s already decided he’s not interested in seeing her as a complete human being.)

        In the decades since then, he’s gone on to creep on many more female classmates and colleagues. Because that’s how guys like this operate: Each time they get away with it, they get a little bolder. I can’t help but wonder how much suffering I could have saved if I’d had the presence of mind to say, “Hey, what you just did there was really weird. Please leave me alone.”

        The 45-year-old boss may be past the point of changing his ways, but maybe he could still benefit from hearing “This is not OK.” Because OP’s certainly not the first woman he’s treated like this, nor is she likely to be the last.

        1. WS*

          Don’t blame yourself – that kind of guy would just dismiss you as a “bitch” and move on to the next target. It takes cultural change to get rid of that type, not one individual action.

          1. KHB*

            See, 42-year-old me is firmly of the opinion that if the worst thing that’s going to happen is that I get dismissed as a bitch by a guy who was only ever going to be a jerk to me anyway, that’s not so bad.

            16-year-old me, unfortunately, had different priorities.

      2. nonprofit nancy*

        Plus I can say from experience that if you DO go for those drinks and it all goes horribly wrong, you will 100% be blamed for “not having known better” and not being smart/savvy enough to head it all off.

  25. No Tribble At All*

    OP, make sure your Stories are set to “friends only” and that your location-sharing is turned off! Even if you’re just posting pictures of your pets to snapchat or whatever (that’s what I use it for), you have to lock it down, unfortunately. Same as you wouldn’t friend your manager on facebook, don’t let your manager into your personal life on snapchat. Especially a platform that is designed to not have traceability.

    1. Quill*

      Also if snapchat can link to other accounts (email, other apps that other people can see to get more contact info) hide or unlink them

  26. Kiki*

    This is one of those situations where, yes, there are scenarios that could mean the intent was not creepy, but as a young woman, I’ve been burned too many times in the past to really give the benefit of the doubt anymore. Yes, it is completely possible it was an accident. Maybe the LW has a similar name to a friend of his and he saw the suggestion and added thinking it was his friend. But in my experience, this is something that many creepy men do to young women in order to slowly but surely see how what boundaries they can push. Oh, it’s just an odd-hours snap request, then it’s a late-night text, then it’s discussing his dating woes, and then it spirals from there. It always starts small so there’s plausible deniability.
    I wouldn’t report him to HR for this– this on it’s own isn’t a big deal– but I would somehow document that it happened and be on guard around this man in the future.
    I’m sorry, LW. It stinks that stuff like this happens.

    1. Jay*

      It’s time for men to shoulder this burden. Instead of women being expected to give men the benefit of the doubt, men need to figure out where the line is and stay way the hell over on the non-creepy side of it.

      1. HQetc*

        Yes, absolutely, and to expand on that, men in managerial positions need to start shouldering this burden by acting in a standard, appropriate manner with *all* of their employees. In other words, men in management positions can’t say “well I won’t invite Jane to drinks or text her after hours because that would be inappropriate and might make her uncomfortable, and I’m not that guy. But it’s cool with John because we’re both straight guys, so it won’t be weird.” As KHB discusses above, that just perpetuates disproportionate connections and networking opportunities for men. Managers need to make sure that they can maintain the same standard of behavior across all their reports, or it isn’t acceptable behavior with any of them.


    2. Ominous Adversary*

      Right, and then after you push back on the full-blown creepiness, it’s “But why didn’t you put a stop to it right away when he sent that first snap request?!”

  27. Dumpster Fire*

    Tbh, if he asked me out for drinks, I’d agree and then invite someone else along, maybe that male co-worker…..”Hey, Fergus and I are going for drinks, want to come?” How the manager reacts to that might give some insight into his motivation.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah. I’d invite all of the manager’s reports to join.

      Disclaimer: not familiar with Snapchat.
      Would it be possible to do similarly with Snapchat? IOW, Snapchat friend all of the employees in the dept.
      Maybe even include HR with that.

      Seriously, no matter how this friend request occurred, this was creepy. And, not seeing any apology/admission of mistake on manager’s part. Which adds to the creepy. Not saying an apology would absolve him either.

  28. Lauren*

    Honestly, and I think this is easier since you’re on Zoom, I’d consider “casually” mentioning it during a staff meeting where your other coworkers are present. “I saw your Snapchat request the other day, but I keep social media for my personal life so I declined it” in an offhanded way sends a signal that you are not going to keep questionable behaviors a secret. I’m so tired of the culture that has always said that those of us on the receiving end of these behaviors are the ones that have to be discreet, because it just ends up protecting the perpetrator. Bring it up now in front of other people. If it wasn’t meant to be creepy, then there’s no reason you couldn’t talk about it in front of your coworkers. And if it was, then now it’s his problem to deal with. Good luck and don’t question your instincts. They’re good.

    1. Lobsterp0t*

      I would really only do this in that bit at the start of the meeting before it has officially started when it doesn’t look like a deliberate public call out. Because if it WAS purposeful, pointedly doing it in a team meeting is more likely to create retaliation problems for the OP. It isn’t like saying it in the coincidental presence of others – a zoom meeting is where everyone is on purpose. It’s not as casual as it would normally be in the office.

    2. NoName*

      Another reason I like this suggestion is because it opens the door for other women who might have experienced similar creepiness. A lot of women don’t speak out until someone else does.

    3. Van Wilder*

      I said above that I would prefer to leave him hanging. But I LOVE this idea. Casually. But in front of people.

  29. CrazyEights*

    I’m not saying this is the case, I’m just going to say I’ve accidentally sent friend requests to people on SnapChat, especially when “suggested friends” pops up based on phone numbers I have in my phone and I accidentally click on one.

      1. HB*

        Not my comment, but I had a lot of “Well what if” comments as I was reading the post which weren’t helpful. But thinking through it a bit more…

        IF he did it by accident, I would expect that he would have followed up the next morning with “Hey, I think I accidentally clicked on your phone number to send a snap invite and that was inappropriate. If you haven’t seen it yet, please delete it.”

        The problem is the “I accidentally sent you an invite” is what gives creepers plausible deniability when their chosen victim ignores/declines the request, so there’s no real way to know if it happened by accident, or he’s just covering himself. He also didn’t say that.

        If I were the OP and *wanted* to explore the possibility that it was accidental, I would say something like “Hey, I saw your Snap request and I ignored it because I assumed you sent it accidentally. I checked with [Coworker] and he didn’t get one, plus you sent it late at night so it clearly wasn’t a work thing.”

        But I would still do everything else Alison said: tell other women (in case this is part of a pattern), and never give him the benefit of the doubt. The only advantage I see in confronting him would be to put him on notice. If it was really accidental, then nothing else he says/does should cross the line of inappropriate behavior, and he’ll be more careful with the suggested invites in the future. If he really is a creeper, well anything is possible but at least he knows she won’t stay quiet about it.

  30. pastelround*

    It’s creepy. There’s probably not a lot you can do it about it at this stage. What is important to do is if this escalates is to cut it off right away, instantly. Some young women are socialised to be nice and will let creepy conversations meander on because they don’t know how to shut it down. Just shut this stuff down, ASAP. And keep records of everything.

  31. HB*

    This right here is why I love this blog so much:

    “If anyone is reading this and thinking it seems like an awful lot to read into the situation: It’s not. Middle-of-the-night Snapchat requests are part of the creepy dude playbook, and managers have an obligation not to seem like they’re creeping on the women they manage. If he cared about that, he would have not sent it at all, or sent it to the whole team during work hours.”

    Because as I was reading this, I knew better, but I *still* kept thinking “Well maybe he meant…” Which is how boundary pushing/blurring continues to thrive.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      Internalized devil’s advocate is a thing. I hear you. In my case, age has changed that landscape dramatically. I have no more fucks to give.

      1. I’m screaming inside too!*

        Absolutely, me too. Back when I was the LW’s age, I might have got onto the “maybe he isn’t creeping, it could be innocent” train of thought, but *mumblety* decades later, I shove that train right off the tracks and immediately hop on the “what a creep! how can I call him out and inflict maximum embarrassment without damage to me?” train.

      2. chi type*

        Also the advocate seems to put in overtime for certain people while deciding it’s time for lunch when it comes to others.

  32. tazdevil*

    If your boss wanted to connect with you on social media, then he could have sent you a LinkedIn invite. In order to CYA against retaliation, tell HR right away and tell boss not to contact you by any means other than your business email account.

  33. Lobsterp0t*

    It isn’t our job to “well maybe he meant” for our male managers. If they err then they can do the work to correct it without our help. Boundary violations are the responsibility of the violator to own and repair.

    The most OP might “need” to do here is alert him to the violation of a pretty commonly understood boundary in a professional way.

    1. embertine*

      Thanks for this. If it was an accident*, he can do the work of explaining and allaying her fears. If it was on purpose** but he’s realised it’s inappropriate, he can choose to either pretend it was an accident or he can say nothing but be very careful to be scrupulously professional in the future. Her only obligation is to document for her own protection.

  34. Green Mug*

    I am friendly with my manager and we are both women. However, I would be uncomfortable if she tried to snap me. Snapchat is not for professional use. It’s too personal. You are taking pictures of your surroundings / your house / your pets. I don’t want to connect with my manager in that way, even if we occasionally discuss general, personal topics.

  35. Moth*

    Ugh, Alison hit it right on the head with her comments about how these things can end up hurting women’s opportunities in the workplace. For a timely example, see the articles about Alaska attorney general, Kevin Clarkson. The younger female coworker that he was texting? It would have been impossible for her to accept any meeting with him. I think just about every woman I know saw the examples of her responses and cringed, seeing how she was having to walk the line of being friendly, but never giving an opening. OP — trust your instincts. If it feels creepy, it is creepy.

  36. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    If there’s a way to screen shot or otherwise save his request, I’d do it for documentation sake.
    All the better if he knows you saved it. Might give him pause.

    Definite “creep” vibe going on here.

    And I’d definitely let your coworkers know. First question in a he said/she said situation is ‘did you tell anyone at the time it happened’

    Good luck!

  37. Harvey JobGetter*

    I would say something to him, and it is because of the “maybe he didn’t mean to” point. I normally think that point is patently ridiculous. (Even if they FB request was by accident, it probably still reflected creepy behavior.). But I’m a 42-year-old man with Snapchat because my 2-year-old likes to (on my wife’s phone) send funny snaps back and forth with me. I’m pretty computer/phone/social media savvy, but Snapchat gives me problems with giving me really out there suggestions (e.g., friends of my teenage cousin, and I’m not connected to my cousin on Snapchat). Because Snapchat is different from basically all other social media in how the app works, I have accidentally sent friend requests to some of those people. Thank god not teenagers or any coworker because I would be mortified in those situations. If it did happen with a coworker you brought it up with me, I could tell you what happened and we probably would both feel much better about the situation. I would be too mortified to bring it up on my own and I think it would seem like I was lying if I did.

    This is not to say she HAS to bring it up — she definitely DOES NOT if that’s what she feels comfortable with. But this is a situation where I think (based on my being tech savvy but still struggling with this problem with Snapchat) the accident explanation is far more likely than usual, so the discussion is likely to be more productive than it might otherwise be.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s worth listening to the experience of women on this one. Our knowledge of what is more likely is rooted in a very different (and more relevant) set of experiences than yours is on this particular question.

    2. animaniactoo*

      The point happing here is that your experience is the outlier situation of how this normally goes.

      That the outlier is possible means that the margin for benefit of the doubt is pretty slim, and she should see this as a red flag and treat it as such. If it turns out being the sole red flag over a long interaction, great. She’ll have the data to come to that conclusion.

      But also – if it’s your error and you’re aware of it without being told by the recipient, get over your mortification. The explanation that it happened in error is likely to be much more believable if it is initiated by you.

    3. Prof XYZ*

      Possible is not the same thing as probable. The accidental explanation is possible, not probable. Listen to us.

      1. Batgirl*

        I cannot imagine sending ANY requests late at night, and if I sent an accidental, inappropriate one in the daytime I would send a mortified, reassuring retraction straight away. I refuse to hold a male manager who is cack handed with female employees to a lower standard just because they don’t give a shit.

    4. Salymander*

      So maybe he has a two year old and so Snapchat and and and blah blah blah?

      No. Maybe you aren’t trying to be a sexual harassment apologist, but what you are saying is not helpful and very unlikely to be at all true in this case. Stop jumping through hoops to explain away creepy behavior. Instead of explaining away creepy behavior with a bunch of nonsense, maybe try listening to women when they talk about their lived experience. I have had to deal with so many guys like this that I lost count decades ago. And that is just the ones who didn’t escalate to actually assaulting me. And as the shit cherry on top of the shit sundae that is sexual harassment, you can’t tell the nonviolent creeps from the violent ones. We know what we are talking about because we live it. We have had to navigate this cesspit of bullshit without drowning in it. Please stop playing devil’s advocate and just try to learn and understand.

    5. Cranberry Sauce*

      I’m a middle-aged guy.

      If I accidentally sent a social media friend request out of the blue to a younger woman I worked with, I would expect that she’s likely to think it’s creepy. Because it is creepy.

      The one way I could think of to maybe make it somewhat less creepy is to bring it up proactively and apologize sincerely. And I’d still expect her to harbor some doubts about me for a long time after, and would be incredibly mindful of how I interacted with her going forward.

      I’d also stop using an app that’s designed to accidentally make me seem creepy to my coworkers.

  38. KR*

    One of my worst fears is that I will be scrolling through my suggested friends in snapchat (which just pulls from my phone contacts) and accidentally send a friend request to a co-worker (it is interesting seeing how managers do their bitmoji lol). I am friends with 2 trusted coworkers on snapchat and even they don’t have the ability to view my snapstory. I think that you should block and ignore, and double check your privacy settings on your snap story. I also preemptively block all of my managers/non trusted coworkers on Facebook so I don’t even show up on their suggested friends (and I don’t socialize on FB with coworkers at all as a rule) so that’s something to consider as well.

  39. Copyright Economist*

    I am writing to say I also find this creepy. Snapchat, afaik, is a young person’s social medium. I’m 45, and I stick to Facebook and LinkedIn. That’s the creepy part.

    I often can’t sleep and send emails at 2:00, but I never expect colleagues to respond at that hour. I wouldn’t find a 2 am email creepy.

    Finally, I think it is inadvisable to have anyone from work on social media, so I make it a rule for myself not to accept their friend requests. I just tell them that offline.

    1. Deliliah*

      Being on Snapchat as an older person isn’t “creepy”. I’m going to be 39 next week and I use it.

    2. Aquawoman*

      Being on snapchat is not per se creepy. I’m on snapchat because my 21-year old told me it was a good way to reach him. Same with Discord. Friending a much-younger female subordinate in the middle of the night is the creepy part.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, my dungeons and dragons group meets on discord… but we aren’t co-workers. In fact, many of us have never met IRL, since we formed this group out of a forum years ago.

    3. Arctic*

      Snapchat is not inherently young nor is it creepy for older people to use it. It’s a lot of fun. And you can follow celebrities or friends for fun content.

      Not denying the manager is creepy. But, like, it’s not 2013. Snapchat isn’t some newfangled thing for the youngs anymore.

  40. Hotdog not dog*

    What he meant is far less relevant than what he did. What he did was not appropriate. While OP may not feel comfortable calling out the behavior, doing so directly and professionally is important. It can be difficult, especially as a newer to the workplace female, but allowing inappropriate behavior only feeds the beast.

  41. Elle by the sea*

    It’s highly likely a spam message. I have received such messages from managers and they turned out to be fake or phishing attempts. Probably you should double check with him. It might be a way to suss out if he is up to something weird or someone has hacked his mailbox or Snapchat account.

  42. DeathByTwitter*

    I use Twitter to follow museums and aquariums and look at kitty cat pictures — which doesn’t change the fact that Twitter is often perceived as a raging, hate-fueled hellsite where reputations go to die. (Which it is, of course.)

    Fair or unfairly, and no matter how innocently individual users may make use of it, Snapchat does absolutely have a shady reputation, and LW is 100% right to be suspicious of her boss’s intentions in contacting her through that platform.

  43. I'm just here for the cats!*

    If he had requested a bunch of people then I don’t think it would be really creepy if it was done late at night. He might be a night owl and that’s the time he does his social media. But since it’s just the one person and he didn’t do anything with male workers then it is a bit creepy.

  44. atgo*

    Definitely creepy. Sometimes in these situations, I like to ask seemingly innocent questions of the creeper to throw the discomfort back on them. Things like “Oh, I saw your SnapChat request, but I really only use that for friends. I thought that we were using tools x, y, and z to communicate about work issues. Is SnapChat something you use with the team to communicate? Are there other tools I’m not aware of that I should be?” “I saw a request come in from you on SnapChat outside of work hours. Is there something I’m missing in my work?” The trick is to ask the question earnestly and wait patiently for an answer.

    Unfortunately because of power dynamics, you might not be able to pull that off with a boss, but I figured I’d mention it. It’s served me wonders in all sorts of situations :)

    1. Buni*

      Defo my go-to approach as well. The trick is to ask the question(s) with a wide-eyed innocence and, crucially, ask them in public; create a record.

      I’ve done it with bosses/seniors before, you can make it look like you’re eager to learn.

  45. Robin Ellacott*

    The clincher really seems to be that her male colleague didn’t get a similar request.

    I’ve been there and I’m sorry for OP – even if it never recurs or escalates, she will always be just a little on edge around him and that’s so unfair.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      And it doesn’t serve the woman in question well to doubt her instincts or say “there must be an innocent explanation”….

      When younger and less assertive, I had a much older colleague who was friends with the owner and other senior director drunkenly make advances at HIS WIFE’S MEMORIAL and I initially thought he couldn’t possibly mean it given the circumstances, and didn’t react harshly. When it escalated I lost credibility because nobody understood why I had initially been friendly and sympathetic to him and felt so uncomfortable just saying no.

      I now wish I had done something like atgo suggested above. I’m not sure it would have been enough with my guy, but it would have drawn a line in the sand. The lines SHOULD be universally understood, but some people get away with just barging over them.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I don’t think it’s a “clincher” though. The (one) male colleague may not be as easily searchable, may not have come up as a suggestion, etc. Now if there was a pattern of the boss connecting to only female coworkers, I’d say “clincher.”

      I do agree with you that the OP is now going to be watching for other signs, which just sucks.

  46. animaniactoo*

    I am not capable of not mentioning it and pretending it didn’t happen. I am VERY good at “Hey, I’m really confused – I got a friend request from you on SnapChat? In the middle of the night?” At this point, because it’s been a few days/weeks, I would raise it as “This was so odd to me that I didn’t know what to say, but I got a SnapChat request from you in the middle of the night the other day.” and then DIG IN to all of his bs answers and be the ultimate in professional and helpful in replying.

    Him: “Yes, I sent it, I was just hoping to connect with you/wanted to share something I thought you’d enjoy.”
    You: “Ah. Do you normally connect with employees on social media? I thought that might be it, but [male co-worker] says you haven’t sent him a request, so that made me thing it might be something else.”
    Him: “Oh, no no no. It was just the one thing that I thought you might like/we share a sense of humor I thought we’d enjoy being connected that way/etc.”
    You: “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you might want to think about how you use social media on a personal vs professional level. So many people/men who send a younger female employee a social media invite in the middle of the night really are hoping for something more, and I am sure you don’t want to end up with a reputation of being “that guy” by accident!”

    Any attempts to push past the boundary line you’ve just put in place are boundary defenses on your part.
    “We can just keep the humor stuff to work channels if you don’t mind. I’m always up for the occasional chuckle in my e-mail.” or “Even if we share the same politics, I would prefer to keep politics out of my work environment as much as possible and just focus on work and the occasional social comments about movies and stuff like that. I hope you understand!”

    Professional – seeming benefit of the doubt, while being clear that you are up to date on norms and these tricks and will not be falling for them tyvm.

    1. Sleepless*

      Might as well. I have a not-great habit of being on social media in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, and I’ve accidentally sent a few people Facebook friend requests, either by fat-fingering or because my sleepy brain thought it was somehow a good idea. Then in the cold light of day, unfriending them seems a little rude and now I’m stuck. I would welcome one of those people messaging me and saying, “um, thanks, but did you mean to do this?” so I could say, “nope, sorry, ignore.” If he responds otherwise, well, there’s your answer.

      (A coworker of mine who works the night shift knows this about me, and once when I left Facebook open at work she changed my profile picture. I was really freaked out for a second, until I saw the time stamp and put together what must have happened. The picture itself was so funny I left it up for weeks.)

    2. Batgirl*

      See, I dont think the OP has any responsibility to address this at all, but “Hey, I’m really confused – I got a friend request from you on SnapChat? In the middle of the night?” Might be fun to say, publicly.

    3. nonprofit nancy*

      Everybody is different, to me, this is just escalating the situation when really I’d just want to shut it down completely.

      1. animaniactoo*

        That is correct and that is why I said I am not capable of just ignoring it. From my perspective: Yes, I want to both shut it down and escalate it… just enough to make it uncomfortable for him to have tried it or try it again – on me or any other woman. Agreed that’s me and others will not be comfortable doing that. But it’s hugely useful in combatting the overall mindset and “passes” guys like this get for plausibly neutral actually creepy behavior.

  47. Daisy*

    “Hi! Just wanted to say I got your middle-of-the-night snapchat request. That’s the sort of thing that could definitely come across as weird and creepy, so I’m going to assume it was a mistake. How about that work thing?”

    If I can pull it off safely (like in writing, or in front of witnesses), I always like to do a polite, nonthreatening I see what you did there to mark myself as not an easy victim.

    1. nonprofit nancy*

      This is very difficult to pull off well. There are two universes for Schrödinger’s creepster: 1) he was deliberately pushing a boundary with OP to see what she would do. This means he is a dangerous person and a bad manager. Now she has deliberately confronted him, he’s likely to be pissed off and vicious. He’s not going to like being talked to this way. He will probably try to trash her career to show that he’s the boss. 2) he’s a duffelhead who stupidly did this thinking it was innocuous. Now he’s mad that she rubbed his face in what was to him an innocent gesture and has marked her down as someone who is too sensitive and litigious.

      This difficulty is why creepsters do things the way they do. They realize the situation they’ve created. In my experience the most successful approach is to ignore it until you can’t any more in case it is a type 2 or a not-bold type 1, and by then hope that he’s done something egregious you can actually act on.

    2. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

      I tend to deal with situations like this in an extremely blunt way, poss more upfront than Daisy’s excellent choice of words above.

      You will have a better idea yourself if this would work for you but my way of dealing with this boundary pusher would be to send a work email stating I had received the request and that I do not connect with people on any social media if I have not instigated the request.

      This may be too blunt for you (or you may not feel safe etc) I completely understand this is not for all situations or everyone – for me its about stripping away any deniability on their side and showing boundary pusher that I will use a blunt instrument to show people what they are doing if need be. Its not so much what I am saying as such but the fact that its being so clearly stated it takes away their deniability.

      Understand your situation may call for more circumspection except it also may not. Its a workplace acceptable way of saying get lost which has worked for me when I have no shame in using it (and boundary pushers count on your shame) – am also a Londoner and a bit cheeky so ymmv

  48. Aglaia761*

    Screenshot and send in an email declining his request using Allison’s language.

    This way he 1. Knows you have proof. 2. It’s on the record as you saying no.

    1. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

      Just commented above then saw this. Perfect way to deal with boundary pusher.

  49. KHB*

    Inspired by my high school German teacher’s way of menacingly drawling “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hearrrrr that” whenever one of us said something really stupid, here’s my advice: Email the boss, “Hey, I got your Snapchat request the other night. I assume you must have sent it by accident, because Snapchat is obviously not an appropriate platform for professional communications. So let’s stick to email, OK?”

    I.e., take his plausible deniability by the horns and send it right back to him.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I’ve said that on two occasions:
      1) when an older (Jewish) coworker called me Feminazi
      2) when someone send to the work chat Mia Khalifa in explicit positions stickers

  50. Green great dragon*

    I wouldn’t call either 11pm or 7am ‘the middle of the night’ – is the point just that it’s not work hours? I’m often on social media well past 11pm, as are many of my friends (and others are on before 7am).

    I agree with the advice to be wary (snapchat with direct reports – not a good idea. Snapchat with just one of two direct reports – extremely bad idea) but confused by the view on timing. And slightly worried now I may have posted to work social channels well after 11pm.

    1. Batgirl*

      You ever been instinctually creeped out? It’s a feeling that is not that simplistic a formula. There’s a bunch of data your instincts have to crunch before you feel reassured. The timing is like a sliding scale but other factors, like not adding her co-worker are also factored in.

    2. The Spinning Arrow*

      It’s not necessarily an either/or for 11pm or 7am though. I think those times were mentioned because they were the time period OP was asleep, so the request could have come in at any point during that window. And yes, to many people, between 11pm and 7am is time you only interact with close friends or partners. A Snapchat request at 3am has a certain connotation that is wildly inappropriate for a boss to send to their direct report. I can’t say whether your posts to work social channels after 11pm were problematic, but I think it’s something to be aware of in the future. (Your interactions with friends in the 11pm to 7am window are less problematic I’d think, as you hopefully know your friends’ comfort levels and would know where their boundaries are so you didn’t cross a line there. But work folks? Yeah, maybe don’t do things overnight.)

      1. Green great dragon*

        Hmm. A post isn’t really ‘an interaction’ though – if I post at 11:30, because that’s when I tend to check social media, and my colleague replies at 6am, because that’s when she likes to, when’s the interaction? Must I wait to post until I start work at 10am, at which point the conversation may have moved on? I’ll put some more thought into it, but you haven’t quite convinced me.

        1. Quill*

          Look, I chat with my overseas colleagues pretty often, and if something is moving so fast that it will be over by the time you wake up and face the day, it wasn’t your problem to begin with.

          Also, you know, we haven’t added each other on any social media.

        2. Metadata minion*

          If you are already having a conversation with someone, or you’re posting on your own page/feed/etc., that’s not creepy at all. An older man *initiating a conversation* with a young woman in the middle of the night? Creepy.

    3. Anononon*

      OP’s question has nothing to do with making social media posts after hours. It is specifically “friend requesting” (or whatever the snapchat term is) an employee late at night. No one is saying that you can’t generally post after hours.

  51. NoName*

    This makes me so angry and frustrated for you, OP. I have faced similar interactions as a young female: I had a creepy boss 20 years my senior try to date me, a colleague try to booty call me and most recently, I had a male client make a sexual remark about me to my male coworker which related in my company dropping said client. Why do men act like this in a professional setting? Ugh.

    I have nothing to add but I think it’s a good idea to check in with the other women in your office in case there’s a clear pattern. The client I mentioned above recently made local news because it turns out that he’s sexually harassed dozens of women in my city.

    1. nonprofit nancy*

      Yeah, I would find a way to subtly check in with the other young women, particularly if you notice any that he seems to be flirty with. Sadly, in my experience creepsters rarely pick just one woman to creep on.

  52. Young professional*

    I’m a young female (early 20s) whose boss (Mid 40s) recently Facebook and Instagram followed me (he sent the requests during the evening- about 6 or 7 pm) It didn’t bother me because because he does it with EVERYONE.

    However, your boss is different. It’s weird that he only did it to you during the middle of the night. Sure, maybe he doesn’t realize your coworker has social media. That still does not excuse the weirdness of the middle of the night. To handle that, I’d just follow it what Alison said.

  53. I Need That Pen*

    Me personally I would probably be blunt-ish, and say, “Did you mean to send me this?” With a nice enough tone that stays neutral and professional, but begs the question of “what the hell?” at the same time. And hand him a shovel because he’ll probably need one as he answers.

  54. SJJ*

    definitely creepy.. however…

    I, a female, have had a situation where I accidentally hit the SnapChat ‘Quick Add’ on someone and my old @# couldn’t figure out how to undo it. So, it COULD have been a mistake.

    But key thing is you don’t have to feel uncomfortable – you’ve done nothing wrong and none of this is on you. Depending on the situation, you can let a sleeping dog lie, or just nonchalantly mention it at the “water cooler” and act like of course it was a mistake. If you chose the latter and get some type of gaslighting response… that’s a whole other ball of wax.

    1. nonprofit nancy*

      If it wasn’t a mistake and it was your own subordinate, wouldn’t you follow up with them and apologize / explain?

      1. SJJ*

        I’m not sure what you’re asking.

        If you mean *was* a mistake, would I bring it up to a subordinate? If that’s the case, I would probably say something in passing and be all “thumbs, amirite?” but not 100% sure. Depends on the dynamics and the personalities involved. Sometimes people are awkward about this stuff and would rather pretend it didn’t happen.

        End point: She should feel empowered to hit it straight on however she feels is right – and shouldn’t feel bad about it.

  55. Boop Boop*

    Just going to preface this by saying I’m a woman. I think it should be brought up. I think it would be good to bring it up as one of those “of course” statements. Like, “this was really weird, I got a Snapchat request from you in the middle of the night, of course that was on accident right?And definitely not appropriate, right?” How they respond can give you an idea of their creep level. And now they know that you know and you’re not okay with. You’ve got to shut down these types of things down as soon as possible. I’m surprised that a 45 year old would be using Snapchat but (and this doesn’t absolve them or make it any less creepy) it’s possible they were doing some social media stalking and accidentally pushed the friends button. Or maybe they were trying to connect with their direct reports and didn’t realize the time. But if no one else on your team got a friend request than that’s not okay. And I would definitely check with your female colleagues to see if they got a request too or any other creep vibes.

    1. Boop Boop*

      Just wanted to add. The other option is to go above your manager to someone you know would know this is not okay and tell them it happened with the “of course” language. And they can talk to your manager about appropriate behavior.

      1. Sarah*

        I would do this if you think people could be receptive. You can do it in a way that will minimize potentially negative consequences. Have a meeting with the person, be it your old manager or HR or whoever. Say you had a weird experience and say you felt like you should tell someone on the off chance that this wasn’t a one-off. Then explain what happened. Then you can say that you are planning to just ignore it and you don’t need them to do anything in particular but you’ve always been told this is what you’re supposed to do if you feel uncomfortable, etc. You can adapt this based on what you know about the person you will be talking to. I’ve done this before and I was glad I did it. Nothing really came of it but it made me feel safer just knowing that there was now a record if anything else happened.

        This is actually a particularly good time because this person is new.

        1. Sarah*

          Then in addition to this, tell a coworker you are close with about it if you can.

          Both of these things are totally optional and are designed to protect you.

  56. Elbe*

    I’m so happy that Alison added the note about the “…but what if he didn’t mean to?” comments.

    Because here’s the thing: giving someone the benefit of the doubt isn’t free. It will cost the LW something if she’s wrong.

    It goes like this: A dude does something run-of-the-mill creepy and builds in a lot of plausible deniability (“Snapchat added all of my contacts (except for the men)!” / “I’m old and don’t know apps!” / etc.). His target is trying to be nice and decides to give him the benefit of the doubt and tries not to get her guard up. But getting away with the low-level creepiness just makes him bolder, and identifies her as someone who doesn’t want to make waves (aka a good target for escalation). So, when he asks to get “work” drinks or needs to call her late at night for an urgent “work” matter, she’s more likely to agree. And then she’ll probably get more blatantly harassed, when it’s more awkward and more wave-causing to say no. She’s going to have to say “I don’t like you like that. This is inappropriate.” point-blank, instead of just “I don’t add coworkers on social media.” And because he has to be more directly rejected now, he’s more likely to get offended and react poorly, which will have more consequences for her in the workplace.

    Knowing what I know now, I think that addressing it with him right now is the way to go. Let this creeper have his fig leaf while also making it clear that you’re someone who will enforce your boundaries.

  57. ...*

    He just added you? He hasn’t sent anything yet? Just deny the request or block him if you want. This seems like a lot of hand wringing and major accusations when nothing has even been sent.

    1. Aza*

      It’s not hand wringing because it’s her boss. There’s a power dynamic that’s not there in normal relationships.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        So by this definition, if boss one time accidently hits redial from his recent call list at 2am but hangs up before the call completes he is a automatically still a Creep because he “tried” to call to her late at night?

        Ever heard of a butt dial?

        1. LunaLena*

          It is if his response is anything other than “oops, sorry, butt dial” when confronted.

          I think a call is different from a social media friend request. Calling and hanging up before the call is complete requires no response or action from the call-ee unless they choose to. Sending a friend request is actively soliciting some kind of response, and it’s explicitly requesting permission for continuous interaction.

          @… Will you take responsibility if the boss retaliates in some way because the OP blocked or denied his request? It’s so easy to be flippant or say “just do this, screw the consequences!” when it’s not your job on the line.

        2. Aza*

          It seems like you’re trying to find ways to justify her boss sending her a middle of the night snapchat request. Why?

          At best it’s someone who is having technological problems, and still coming across as creepy.
          At worst her boss is actively being creepy.

          Either way, it’s not something that’s appropriate (even if “just a butt dial), and even if it was “just an accident” it’s still fine that it’s not something the OP is comfortable with.

    2. EA*

      OP here – The fact is that it’s at-best an unprofessional and inappropriate mistake. At worst, it’s a sign that my new manager is a creep and I need to watch my back. The reason I sent this letter was to get opinions on the situation – and clearly, my gut instinct (as a young woman in a male-dominated office and industry) was valid as many of the other comments have backed me up. I never accused him of anything – I said that I felt uncomfortable with my boss adding me on such a personal social media channel (which yes, is sometimes associated with it’s sleaziness), compounded by the fact that he added me overnight (sometime between when I went to bed at 11 and got up at 7), and by the fact that he did not add my male coworker on any social platforms who is his only other direct report.

      1. Salymander*

        Hi OP
        You seem like you have good instincts about this. I agree that this boss seems creepy and should be watched for further creepiness, or whatever you decide is the best way to deal with it.
        As for the people who are getting caught up in the “but what did he really mean” arguments? You don’t have to be fair or objective when deciding whether you think someone is creepy. You can just suspect the creepy, or get a whiff of creepy, or maybe wonder why your boss is trying to contact you via Snapchat in the middle of the night. You are not a court of law, and the creepiness does not need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of anyone’s peers. And a lot of the arguments about boss’s intentions are pretty unlikely and ridiculous anyway. Suspecting that someone might be creepy and being careful around that person is not exactly a grave injustice being done to him.

      2. Anon PhD*

        OP, your instincts are spot on (see my comment at the bottom with my story). I’m also in a male dominated industry. I had a former coworker who got caught up in this “he didn’t mean it nonsense”: “oh this married coworker asked me out for a drink and then got me a gift. It means nothing…he just got it for me because we hail from the same country, so it’s just a souvenir from his trip”. Yeah…she talked herself into a mess that ended up with HR, caused her a lot of anxiety and then she had to switch depts, not him. This is an extreme example, as the guy was particularly noxious and oddly powerful. But def a lesson to be careful, which you are being. I have lots of great male coworkers who are very decent ppl, but there’s always a few bad apples.

  58. Jake*

    At least this is a useful data point for evaluating him in the future.

    That sucks and I’m sorry it happened.

  59. Jennifer C*

    My internal clock got totally messed up when I started working from home. I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until 3 a.m. and would use that time to play on social media, and then start work (late) around 10 a.m. I’ve gotten a little better but my friends still wonder why I’m sending them tiktok videos at 2 in the morning.

    Therefore, I would deduct one creepy point for the boss just possibly having insomnia. But he’s still at 9 out of 10 on the creepy scale.

  60. Dagny*

    I’m not on Snapchat, so I don’t know if it works the way Facebook does, suggesting people you may know. Perhaps it did and he hit the wrong button. Maybe.

    But my advice would be the same: delete the request, do not bring it up with him, and report it. If it’s a one-off thing, it will not at all affect his career. If it’s not accidental, it will be another data point.

  61. noahwynn*

    It can be both creppy and an accident, but you should still call the guy out on it. Best case it was an accident but boss still needs to learn that it reflects poorly on him and he should be more careful. More likely, he was just being creepy.

    Sometimes men just need to see it from the womans perspective. I’m a 6’2″, 200 lb dude. I was walking at night with my boyfriend and there was a woman who came out of a building walking ahead of us. My boyfriend pulled me across the street with him. When I asked why, he said it was so the woman walking ahead of us didn’t feel uncomfortable. When I asked me sister about it she told me she always feel vunerable walking alone at night. I’d just never given it a thought before because it is not something I personally have to worry about.

    So, boss is being creepy by adding her late at night because that is something creepy guys do. Even if he doesn’t mean it that way or it was an accident, it doesn’t mean he isn’t creepy. He is and should stop.

    1. nonprofit nancy*

      I love when men do this! I’m a small woman and I get a sick feeling if I’m walking alone and encounter a lone man or – worse – a group of them. I have once or twice seen them deliberately cross the street or get out their phones and start a phone call (for some reason I don’t think many muggers would chat on their phones) and it is such a nice feeling that they recognized the situation, like – hey, there are good people in the world!!

      1. Quill*

        This, but it’s guys in trucks. I live in a largely suburban area and I used to do most of my walking in the company of a large and noisy dog, but whether I’m on foot or in my car I am NOT happy when some dude in a pickup is crowding my bumper or cruising weird laps around the neighborhood.

        Extra points of unease for bumper stickers and other decorations that make me instantly aware of the truck owner’s politics.

  62. Formerly Harassed*

    Been there before. PLEASE talk to other women (especially those in their 20s) in your office! I had a similar situation in my old office. It wasn’t until the man left that several of the younger women came together and realized he’d acted similarly inappropriate with all of us. The whole time, no one said anything because none of his actions seemed “that bad.” It broke my heart because he’d previously been a great mentor until he started acting inappropriately.

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you! I know this seems like a small, one-of weird thing, but keep your guard up with this man.

    1. nonprofit nancy*

      Also, I think finding out that he’s doing to it to everyone helps you break out of the “grooming” mindset that it’s so easy to fall into, especially when you’re younger. A part of the script is often to act like you are special and that’s why he’s picking you, or that he’s not usually “this type of guy.” This can go towards keeping you silent or helping him conceal what he’s done. BUT when you realize he’s exactly this type of guy who is practiced at doing this and does it repeatedly, it’s a lot easier to give him the boot to HR.

  63. Hiring Mgr*

    Do the fact that the boss didn’t send the request to the other employee, or that it was late night really matter? If it’s unwanted and inappropriate that should be enough.

    FWIW, there are plenty offices where friending others on social media is normal and accepted (can’t speak for snapchat but certainly on FB and Instagram). Not that it matters in this case,

    1. NotaPirate*

      I think they’re presenting that info as a clear example of it wasn’t a “downloaded snapchat and accidentally used work email and hit add all” type situation or a clueless boss going “hmm I cant sleep lets find and add all my employees on social media”. Boss was targeting OP specifically.

      Late night matters too. Because maybe boss was partaking in a solo player insomnia activity that some people do with pictures or while texting graphically. Which makes trying to add specially OP social media gross.

  64. I'm just here for the cats!*

    I think she should talk to other co-workers, both male and female about social media and the boss. Also does the company have a social media policy? It should.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely it should! I would say that it’s never good to connect on anything but LinkedIn or maybe Google.
      Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the like are for friends, not business or bosses.

  65. Regular Human Accountant*

    So my husband is a youth pastor, and he uses Snapchat a lot to communicate with students. We also use it as a family to send pet pictures to each other, and my daughters and I have a “streak” going (674 days and counting!). Even my 70-year-old parents use it now! BUT. If my 50-something boss were to send me a Snapchat request? I would decline it. It feels too intimate between adults in a way that Facebook does not (although I’m not friends with my boss on FB either). It’s just not appropriate for a boss-employee relationship.

    1. Emi.*

      Does he send snaps directly to children, or just post events and things on his story? This would be way out of bounds in any of the youth organizations I’ve worked with.

    2. NotaPirate*

      I would be cautious using Snapchat with teens the pastor works with. The temporary nature of it (photos and messages disapear after a set time or after a tap) makes it less accountable. There’s no record of who said what or sent what. Likewise the story function (upload a video or image anyone can tap to see it for 24hrs then gone forever) has been known to be used stupidly at parties by young adults (and older ones I’m sure too). Your own kids sure. Other peoples kids that the pastor is working with? Less fine.

    3. mrs__peel*

      That doesn’t seem like a great professional boundary, especially if there’s any private one-on-one communication between the staff and minors. Any organization that deals with children or teens should have policies in place against that.

    4. Aza*

      Your husband is probably perfectly appropriate in whatever he’s sending to his youth. But as a parent when I read this I definitely had an “ew” reaction, because of creeps that are sometimes in youth ministry.

      If I were him I’d avoid communicating with his students on a platform like this, just because of the potential for misuse.

  66. JB*

    Creepy or clueless? I’d assume the latter, reject the request and say nothing unless other inappropriate cues appear.

    There are social medium platforms I use rarely and then when I go in for a random look, I don’t always understand at first glance the suggestions for friends result in a request FROM me rather than me responding to a request. My late night frame of mind might influence me to click “yes” when I see something cute/funny. We’ve had similar happen with my children’s (adult) friends.

    Many we’ve known their families for years and tagging as friends to see them post pics of vacations and pets is no big deal. But then sometimes my husband or I mistakenly think we’ve been invited. With my husband – who uses the products barely at all – this has occasionally resulted in my daughter laughing – “why did you try to friend my work colleague you’ve never met?” Ummm, because it seemed like she was inviting me and I thought she was XYZ’s daughter, and – basically – I didn’t know what I was doing!

  67. MLK*

    I don’t want to gloss over this if it’s inappropriate. But do consider that more snapchat users are female. (61% female, 38% male). If you are asking colleagues if he also friended them, do verify they HAVE an active Snapchat account. I looked at my own account just now. If I was playing around with it, trying to “add friends”, it suggests about 80 names. Quite a few from my workplace show up. I’d guess 1 in 10 is male from my particular contacts. I don’t plan to add a bunch of people that way. But if I did – it would mostly be women as that’s the huge majority (for me).

  68. Anon PhD*

    I 100% can relate to this and greatly appreciate Alison’s advice, it is SO GOOD that she wrote this much. Something similar happened to me in early March. Me and two male coworkers (I’m a woman in my mid 30s) attended a networking event to promote our company, attract new talent. One was an older dude, early 50s, the other a guy in his late 20s. Older dude took our cell #s to coordinate on parking, etc. After the event we chatted about comedy shows we like. Older dude also went on and on about his lovely wife, even showed me a wedding photo. And what did he do after?! Well it started with him txting me a link to a YouTube clip of a comedian we like. I politely thanked him..thought that’d be the end, but NO…he started txting me links at 10:30, 11pm and during the work day. I would only reply during work hrs, and just with another thank you…which in his mind meant he could keep txting me at all hrs. It stopped only when I just stopped replying, thanks to a friend’s advice. I didn’t know how to txt him to tell him no. Creepy friggin dude. It prevented me from making a nice linkedin post with pics of the three of us from the event, but not a big loss.

    1. Anon PhD*

      I’ll add that the older dude prefaced his first txt by telling me he’s txting from his personal cell, while we had all exchanged only our work #s since it was a work event…eew. And I never interacted with him until this event. Gross.

    2. Jaded*

      I got a creepy text message from a recently-ex boss. He’d been a creep to me when I worked for him – off-colour jokes and innuendos, boundary-pushing, late night phone calls and stuff. I’m pretty sure he was doing the same to other women in the office – one of them went off with stress for *4 months* and I’m pretty sure that was because of him. But it was really difficult, because I still needed ex-boss for references, so I had to compose a non-bridge-burning text back saying, I’m sure you’re joking but I don’t find this funny, please stop. Anyhow, (surprise!) it didn’t stop and I ended up having to block him on all channels and find another reference from that job :-(.

      So – yes, it’s inappropriate. Save the evidence, and shut it down hard, not because it will make him stop, but because that’s one of the questions you’ll get asked later. Talk to your female colleagues about this, take this as a heads-up that you’ll need to build relationships with other managers for future references, and the next creepy thing creep does is your cue to think seriously about going to HR.

  69. Katt*

    Thank you, Alison, for the unequivocal refusal to give cover to creepy acts seemingly designed to have *just* enough plausible deniability to keep the manager involved out of trouble. It’s a breath of fresh air to see behavior like this called for what it is.

  70. embertine*

    Man, the number of people doing the “maybe he didn’t mean it like that?” dance on this post, despite SPECIFICALLY being told not to do so, is exhausting.

    1. RollerGirl09*

      So much this. Seriously. I’m over 40 and know exactly how to use snapchat. We genXers are not social media morons. Doing mental gymnastics to show his intent was pure just demonstrates how much more work women have to do to be believed when men are creeps.

      It probably wasn’t spam, or a bot, or a phishing attempt. He didn’t “accidentally” add her. It was most likely exactly what it looked like. Occam’s razor definitely applies. Snap is a very specific medium and there is no planet where this doesn’t come off as creeptacular.

  71. QuinleyThorne*

    For additional context on why this is creepy, consider who you’d normally message on social media between 11p & 7a, and why. A quick run through that mental list and I’m willing to bet none of those people are coworkers.

  72. justanotherem*

    I would be horrified. I’m not opposed to connecting on other social media, but Snapchat is so different and way more personal than Instagram or Facebook. (at least to me). Hoping there are other women in the office she can talk to and check in with to not feel alone if he continues to cross lines. Also hope this was some sort of a mistake, but overnight it’s not likely that a kid took his phone and clicked around adding people…(Which has happened to me and was embarrassing – but the time this request was sent?? *shudder*)

  73. E*

    This is very likely just him being creepy *but* when I first joined Snapchat it asked me to connect my contacts and I accidentally hit yes and it added *everyone* in my contact list whose phone number was connected to their Snapchat account which was extremely embarrassing. Again, probably not the case here but just something to consider.

  74. Aza*

    Ok, so what is your advice for OP if it’s a possibile technical error like this?

    Allison asked for advice, in the first blue highlighted comment, for people who think there’s plausible deniability on the creepy factor vs just posting about why this may not be creepy.

  75. CubeFarmer*

    LW, a good friend of mine started getting social media requests from a client of hers. She didn’t feel comfortable about it, and at the same time, she didn’t feel comfortable not accepting the requests. Her company had no policy on social media interactions with clients–probably a mistake on the company’s part. She accepted the requests because it felt the easiest in the moment.

    Well, the messages went from being friendly, to possibly flirty, to downright creepy and extremely uncomfortable by the time she went to her manager about the problem. It really would have been better for her sanity if she had rejected those requests outright immediately after receiving them, blocked him on every platform when the messages started getting weird, (“Hey, decided I want to move all conversation to my business email, and keep things focused on work, thanks!”) or consulted her manager immediately if she didn’t feel comfortable doing any of that, (“Hey, I’m getting Snapchat requests from my client. What should I do?”)

    Her experience, however, reaffirmed my personal policy of never being social-media friends with a co-worker. The co-workers I’m friendly with all share this policy. Once I no longer have a direct professional connection to this person? Sure, if I want to connect I will. But, I don’t always want to do that, and I don’t feel pressured. I think it helps that I was really in my late 30s before social media became a big thing. I once got a Facebook request from a member of my organization’s board. I didn’t accept it, and when he asked about it, I explained that I have a personal policy of not connecting with anyone I’m professional with on social media. He totally got it, and there was ZERO drama. Even if there had been drama, that was on him.

    LW’s problem is that this is her manager, and the request came in at a very, very inappropriate hour. Honestly, I think I would immediately take this to my grand-manager at that point, “Hey, grandmanager, my manager sent me a Snapchat request very late one night. I’m not accepting it, because that’s not appropriate way for me and my manager to communicate. I’m not asking you to do anything, but I wanted you to know about it.”

  76. Hank Stevens*

    I think it’s best just to ignore it if at all possible. That seems to solve the issue. I’m a said middle age director-level manager and it’s just completely wrong if it was intentional. Ignoring conveys the message. If said possbile “creepster” asks the OP about it, then it opens up a quick conversation. No reason to over-analyze this, just ignore!

  77. Jennifer Juniper*

    I’m guessing the boss is married and going through a midlife crisis. The OP may need to dust off her resume and seek other employment before her reputation gets permanently besmirched.

  78. JLH*

    I don’t really understand why the timing matters. Why is “late night” a factor? I don’t got to sleep until after 1 am and do a lot of late night computing, social media, even work. And sometimes I can’t sleep and may give up, leave my bed and end up online in the wee hours.

    I might be online for work items or social – email, posts, reading, responding to a thread, even “friending”. I also have friends in other countries and may actually catch one online where I normally wouldn’t.

    My only hesitation would be sending TEXTS as recipient in my timezone who are sleeping may have their phone nearby and not set to mute. Otherwise, the fact I’m generating something “now” (at a so-called creepy time??) is meaningless. People read/respond when THEY get online.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      Ever heard of a “booty call”? If you haven’t, a booty call is a late-night last-minute request by text for sex. The Snapchat thing reeks of that.

      1. WhatAMaroon*

        My comment didn’t nest properly

        Late night in the context of: the fact that it’s an especially informal form of social media and it’s not a friend but a relatively new co-worker who reports to him. Sending emails late at night because that’s when someone gets a chance to handle a work things is different because 1) they’re using a common and accepted method for work communication and 2)presumably it is related to work.

        Neither of those things are true here. It’s not that late night is holistically a creepy time, it’s that for this specific type of interaction it is. Things that are menacing when you are a woman are so because your gut and experience (and those of women you know) has taught you that it is. It’s not 100% quantifiable but if you read the comments here, the vast majority of the women commenting agree that the timing sets off their hinky radar; that doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

  79. WhatAMaroon*

    Late night in the context of the fact that it’s an especially informal form of social media and it’s not a friend but a relatively new co-worker why reports to him matters. Sending emails late at night because that’s when someone gets a chance to handle a work things is different because 1) they’re using a common and accepted method for work communication and 2)presumably it is related to work.

    Neither of those things are true here. It’s not that late night holistically a creepy time, it’s that for this specific type of interaction it is. Things that are menacing when you are a woman are so because your gut and experience (and those of women you know) has taught you that it is. It’s not 100% quantifiable but if you read the comments here, the vast majority of the women commenting agree that the timing sets off their hinky radar; that doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

  80. MCMonkeyBean*

    I would tread it as a flag to watch out for other signs of inappropriate behavior but I don’t think it is on its own necessarily creepy. I struggle with getting to bed at a reasonable time which means weird late hours are actually when I am mostly likely to be scrolling through social media platforms and I know I’m not alone in that problem. Snapchat does that thing of “here are some people you might know to follow,” so if you have exchanged cell phone numbers for work from home or something that may have made you pop up as a suggested friend rather than him actively searching you out. So I do think it is possible he was just up late doing normal social media stuff and happened to take Snapchat up on their suggestion.

    I do think it is generally a bad idea for managers to follow their employees on social media, but plenty of non-creepy people do anyway.

    My vote would be to be on your guard, but don’t write him off entirely yet just based on this.

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