Since Facebook's popularity has grown, there's an amazing variety of people who could be at the other end of that latest friend request. It could be your old college buddy, your high school crush, your grandma -- or it could be the guy who signs your paycheck.
You may think accepting your boss's friend request will be harmless. You're smart and Facebook-savvy, so you can make sure you can keep your work and personal lives separate even if you accept, right?
Think again. Whether it's a momentary lapse in judgment on your part or an accidental slip from one of your friends, giving your boss access to your personal profile is a minefield no matter how high you crank up those privacy settings.
Clicking the "ignore" button on your boss's friend request may lead to an awkward day at the office, but it easily beats the ongoing danger and embarrassment that goes along with pressing "accept."
Don't agree? Here are five reasons to change your mind ...
No. 5: Getting the third degree over happy hour
One of Facebook's beauties is the simplicity of planning a get-together. Having a party? Set up an event page. Coordinating a weekend trip with a small group? Send a message. Getting together with a few folks for drinks after work? Write on their wall.
The problem is that most of these tools default to public viewing. So if you decide to tell Steve in accounting that a few people from your department are going to happy hour by writing on his wall, your boss will know, too.
If your boss is the suspicious type, expect to be grilled. Who's going? Why are you going out -- to gripe about the office? What's the problem, exactly? And what do you mean both Karen and Sam will be there? She's his supervisor; don't you know that's inappropriate?
Even if your boss isn't into office conspiracies, you could still get a question you may not want to answer: Sounds fun. Can I come?
If you think that's scary, wait till you see our next reason ...
No. 4: Precarious status updates
There's a certain release in griping via Facebook status updates, banging out your frustrations on your keyboard and broadcasting your displeasure to all your friends at once. "I work for idiots! Can you believe the pointlessness of what these yahoos are making me do? They're running this place into the ground!"
Of course, if one of those yahoos is also your Facebook friend, that displeasure will be broadcast a little further than you wanted it to go. Don't be surprised if you suddenly end up with an email suggesting you might be happier in a different position -- like one with another company.
And if the time stamp on that status update shows that not only were you complaining about your employer in a very public forum, but you were also doing it on company time, you may just want to just start cleaning off your desk and save yourself a little time later.
Of course, if you're already looking to move on, need our next tip ...
No. 3: Good luck keeping that job hunt secret
Whether you're ready to move on and are embarking on a serious job hunt or you're just looking around to see what's out there, that's not something you usually want to discuss with your current boss.
But all it takes is one well-meaning friend to ask a simple question on your wall to get you in hot water:
"Hey, sorry to hear work still sucks. How's your job hunt going? Good luck!"
Just as you stare at that message horrified that your intentions have been broadcast to the world and repeatedly pound the delete button, your boss will be reading her news feed and wondering just how quickly you'll be out the door.
Or even worse -- if your boss had a problem with you anyway or is trying to cut costs, you may be forced out before you're ready.
Can you picture it? How about our next reason?
No. 2: Think about your images
You've done due diligence on your Facebook photo albums.
You've untagged yourself in those college party photos where you're double fisting red cups. You've threatened your friends until they agreed to take down the evidence of that embarrassing weekend in Vegas. You even deleted a few ill-advised profile pictures. So any sketchy photos should be well hidden from everyone, right?
Sure. That is, until you go to a bachelorette party with that one photo-happy friend who must post all photos from the day before she goes to bed so she won't have trouble sleeping. Or you don't notice your prolific mobile uploader friend pull out his cell phone camera once you're a few Irish Carbombs in at the St. Patrick's Day party.
By the time you untag yourself in new photos or beg your friends to take them down, the damage will already be done. Those photos are in your newsfeed and on your boss's computer screen.
Last up, if you want to respect your boss, heed our last warning ...
No. 1: Try respecting a guy with a lamp shade on his head
If there's one thing worse than your boss being able to see what you did Saturday night, it's the reverse: Having your boss's personal photos burn a permanent image into your brain.
Do you really need to see photos of your boss and his bar buddies drinking and dancing the night away? Or the home glamour shots she tried to take that look more sad than fab?
At one time, getting your hands on a photo like that could elicit a snicker and admiration from co-workers. But now that every detail of every photo is readily available to everyone online, it can just get sad.
You're boss is someone you're supposed to respect on a professional level. That can get a lot tougher when he's trying to lead a serious meeting on Monday and you can think about nothing but that wild photo he posted over the weekend.
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