Facebook Friend Goes Too Far

Question:

I’m generally cautious about who I friend on Facebook, because I want them to be a genuine friend. I said “yes,” however, when a co-worker I like and considered a work friend asked me to friend her.

I didn’t realize at the time that she was a Facebook “power user” who shares others’ stories to her own network of more than a thousand individuals. This morning when I opened my feed, I learned that a very personal story I’d intended only to share with those I’d friended had been distributed to her network, including most of my co-workers.

I can unfriend her, which I’ve already done, but what do I do about the fact that most of my co-workers now know way too much about me? Do I ask them one by one not to share it? Or does that make it an even bigger deal?

Answer:

That depends on the story and your co-workers. Given the deluge of information Facebook power users send out, many of your co-workers may not have seen the story, and others may have read but already forgotten it. Those who found it intriguing, however, may feel it’s public and think they have right to further distribute it.

Human resources director Robert Lindstrom notes that “many employees share way too much personal information and then get upset with those who repeat it” and adds that social media has increased this problem exponentially. He suggests you think hard before you again share personal information on Facebook you don’t want repeated, or at least preface your post with, “Please, don’t share this beyond my page — this is personal for those I consider my friends.”

Lindstrom cautions against going to your co-workers and asking them not to repeat what they’ve learned, noting that this “puts the spotlight on you and what you’ve shared.” If, however, you want to test the situation, choose two co-workers you trust and ask them to delete the story from their feeds. If they tell you they overlooked it, or that they viewed it as personal and wouldn’t dream of passing it on, you can rest more easily.

Finally, you’ve learned an important, painful social media lesson. Once you place information on social media, you lose control.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as Regional Director of Training and Business Consulting for The Growth Company, an Avitus Group Company. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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