Recently in Australia, the Fair Work Commission ruled that “unfriending” a colleague on Facebook can be classified as workplace bullying. According to DailyMail.com, two coworkers had a disagreement on the job. One of the employees, who happens to be the wife of the boss, snubbed her fellow coworker by no longer speaking to her, and later “unfriending” her on Facebook. Although this is not an American legal problem yet, we have to brace ourselves for what could happen in the near future, as employers and the legal system attempt to keep up with digital media and its constant changes.
I know some of you are reading this and declaring that you can do whatever you want on your Facebook profile. You’re right and you’re wrong. Let’s face it: “unfriending” someone on Facebook after an altercation is a tad bit passive aggressive. More so, I can understand how the accuser could take this incident to heart if she wasn’t being messy to begin with. According to the article, the accuser went on Facebook to see if her coworker was publicly bad-mouthing her. Messy? However, bad-mouthing your coworkers on social media becomes a human resources issue that could get you fired. It doesn’t matter that it’s your Facebook page; you can still be terminated. The best way to avoid this is to set clear boundaries as it relates to your social media accounts and your coworkers. Below, you will find three ways to avoid a social media disaster in the workplace.
1. Make your social media profiles private.
This is one of the easiest ways to police who gets to see your status updates and pictures. I know it can be a pain in the tush, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Making your social media profiles private can prevent coworkers and employers from snooping in your personal affairs.
2. Don’t accept friend requests from coworkers.
I know that many of you spend more time with your coworkers than you do with close friends and family, and this can make it hard to keep your personal and professional lives from overlapping. But, if you set clear boundaries in the beginning, then you won’t have to worry about backpedaling and possibly offending someone by “unfriending” them. Even if your actions aren’t personal, it’s not always perceived that way by others.
3. Use Facebook lists to censor content.
Unlike other social media channels, Facebook allows users to create lists that can be used to grant or deny access to certain content on our Timeline. Setting this up is easy, and I’ll share a couple of pictures below, showing you how to do this. This tool is great if you’ve already accepted coworkers as Facebook friends and don’t want to “unfriend” them, but you don’t want them all in your business either. It also allows you create boundaries. Remember, the Facebook List feature only works if you remember to create and add individuals to the list and then set your privacy controls accordingly.
Although social media allows us to stay in the know while sharing our most precious moments with those we love, we have to remember to be proactive when it comes to our careers. Using the three tips listed above should help protect you from workplace scandals started by social media. Lastly, make sure you are aware of any social media policies in your workplace. What you don’t know can hurt you.
Have you ever had to “unfriend” a coworker on Facebook? If so, was there any backlash, or were there hard feelings?
About the Author
Yolo Spinks is a Memphis-based lifestyle blogger and social media strategist. With a charming smile and deep-rooted Southern drawl to match, Yolo is dedicated to inspiring and motivating women and girls of color to live in purpose and on purpose. Her work to bring awareness to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and infant mortality in communities of color are just two of the ways that she gives back to her community. In her spare time, you can find her reading a book and being Auntie ‘Londa to her great-nieces, Goo and Kay. Follow her on Twitter at @YoloSpinks.