Can You Be (Facebook) Friends With Your Boss?

Big Brother is always watching, especially in the office.

Just before boarding a flight to South Africa last year, PR executive Justine Sacco posted the following on her personal Twitter account: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Justine was fired shortly after the plane landed.

Going On The Record

The first lesson to take away from Justine’s story is represent your employer at all times (even with your personal accounts), so think before you tweet. Secondly, be careful about tone – assume that if what you say online can be taken out of context, it probably will be!

Keep It To Yourself

Your virtual friends aren’t your only audience – whatever you say online can spread far and wide, so don’t say anything you wouldn’t to people in real life. This doesn’t just apply to rants and risque jokes –  even happy updates such as celebrating a pay raise or promotion can complicate matters in the office – you don’t want to appear like you’re showing off. Even if you’re not virtual friends with your boss, who’s to say that a jealous colleague won’t play tattletale and tell him or her about your latest faux pas?

BFFs With Your Boss

What if your boss sends you a friends request? Rejecting it may send the wrong signal, so what should you do? Firstly, make sure there isn’t anything in your profile that may wreck your professional image. Adjust your privacy settings to control what your boss can view before adding her. But if your boss keeps bugging you about why you haven’t responded to her friend request, sometimes it’s best to just come clean and say you think it might be awkward. Try to phrase it in a lighthearted fashion. For example, tell her: “It’s not personal, I don’t even add my parents on Facebook when they ask!”.