Facebook friends and posts are a potential landmine for employees

I get it. You love Facebook, and when people you work with requested you add them as friends, you did. At first, you didn’t have any trouble. Instead, you had the fun of seeing your coworkers’ interesting endeavors and the reinforcing experience of so many colleagues wanting to be your friends and then liking your posts.

But then it happened. Perhaps you stepped on a landmine when you posted an unwise comment, and the wrong person read it. If so, you paid a potentially hefty price for social media carelessness. You could, however, have saved yourself a lot of trouble by not Facebook-friending anyone in these four categories.

1. Your manager or a coworker who might share your post with your manager.

You can’t afford your manager reading your posts, especially the ones you’re prone to writing Sunday night such as “I can’t believe I have to go to work tomorrow. I hate Mondays.” Then there’s the “Can’t wait for this workweek to be over” post you drafted during that boring staff meeting. Too bad your social media site time-stamped it.

You’re not that stupid, you say? Can you honestly claim you haven’t written a careless post that might damage your otherwise strong career brand? What about the time you called in sick, then felt better and checked in for lunch at a restaurant on Foursquare, which then posted to your Facebook page?

If you’ve blown it, you’re not alone. According to an August 2023 survey, 1 in 10 employees have seen a coworker fired for social media posts, and 24% have seen a coworker disciplined by a supervisor or HR over their social media posts.

Negativity and career damage run rampant on Facebook, with 27% of those surveyed reporting their coworkers post negatively about their workplace, and 25% of colleagues noting they’ve lowered their opinion of a coworker because of the coworker’s posts. Further, you can’t eliminate your risk by not friending your manager, as one of your coworker “friends” might share one of your exciting posts with your mutual manager.


2. Your employees or anyone to whom you are senior in status.

The moment you friend one employee, you set yourself up in multiple ways.

What do you do when another employee, one you don’t want to friend, sends you a friend request? If you and the employee you friend are both members of the same racial, ethnic, religious, age or other group, and the employee you don’t friend is in a different protected category, they can point to you not friending them as an indicator of discriminatory bias.

If you “like” one employee’s posts and not another’s, you can wind up mired in office politics or accusations of favoritism.

Photos you consider innocuous, such as you at a picnic table on which beer cans sit, can expose you to gossip and rumors. Or, what if a friend tags you in a photo in which you’re wearing a swimsuit or another revealing outfit? Perhaps your Facebook feed shows that many of your friends feel a certain way concerning politics or religion. Could that negatively affect how others see you?

3. A colleague with whom you have or have had conflict.

You open the door of your life to those you friend on Facebook, as they can view your photos, posts and other friends. You can’t afford to give sensitive information that might be used against you to those with whom you have conflict.

4. Any coworker with whom you don’t have enough experience with trust.

What if you “friend” a coworker and later learn you can’t trust them with what they learn about your life from your posts? This means you can’t add coworkers as friends when you start a new job — you don’t know them well enough. Also, whenever you add one coworker, other coworkers may feel miffed if you don’t add them.

What if, despite everything written above, you still want to Facebook-friend those with whom you work? If so, consider creating two Facebook accounts: a restricted, private one for family and friends and one that’s more public and open to colleagues, on which you post nothing that could come back to bite you.

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Beating the Workplace Bully" and “Solutions,” and Submit questions at or follow her on, or @lynnecurry10 on X/Twitter.