Social Media Policies: What about my “friends”?

Social-media guidelines has been the topic of several recent posts. One of the questions that I suggest employers consider when drafting a social-media policy is “the friending issue.”  That’s right.

When deciding on how employees will be encouraged or required to engage online, one point that comes up repeatedly is whether there should be any rules with respect to friending on Facebook. 

There are several possible answers to this question.  I don’t advocate that any one of them is the only “right” answer. It will depend, in large part, on your company’s culture and the organization’s overall approach to social media.  But you should think about them, nonetheless.  Here are the choices:

1.  No rules. Anyone can friend anyone and the employer won’t get involved.

2.  Supervisors may not make friend requests to direct reports.  Direct reports may make friend requests to supervisors, in which case the supervisor has the discretion to accept (or not accept) the request.

3.  Supervisors may not make friend requests to direct reports.  Direct reports may not make friend requests to their supervisor. Colleagues may be friends on Facebook.

Although I don’t believe any of the 3 are the “best” answer, I do advocate that employers at least consider implementing the second choice, which prohibits supervisors from friending their direct reports.  Common sense dictates that any request that comes from a supervisor is going to be given more consideration. In other words, will the employee really feel free to deny the request?  Likely not.

And what’s the potential harm by implementing this rule?  Very little.  The employee can make the request if he wants.  It seems to me that prohibiting a supervisor from being the initiating party, the only thing you’re prohibiting is possible undue pressure or coercion.

Related Posts:

Social-Media Policy Ideas

Sample Social-Media Guidelines

Social Media Is Here to Stay: Time to Start that Workplace Policy

3 Reasons Why Employers Don’t Have a Social-Networking Policy

2 thoughts on “Social Media Policies: What about my “friends”?

  1. I am general counsel to a wireless communications company. We have had issues with our young retail sales associates seeking to “friend” our customers on Facebook. While I would like to institute a policy prohibiting this, I am certain that it would be unreasonable as many of our 80 stores are located in small towns where our employees have had longtime personal relationships with many of our customers. Your thoughts on this issue would be appreciated.


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