Blurring the lines between work and private life via Facebook: A disaster tale


Your workplace Facebook article last week hit me hard. I’ve always avoided friending coworkers, preferring to keep my personal and work lives separate. After I left each job, I added a handful of former colleagues I considered special as friends.

When I left my most recent job and friended two colleagues, I noticed each listed most of my former coworkers as friends. I also learned the bulk of my former coworkers both exchanged fun stories with each other and used Facebook as a way of arranging spontaneous get-togethers. I would have enjoyed those, felt left out, and wondered how many of my former coworkers considered me stuck up.

I called one of the two and mentioned this, saying I wished I’d known about these informal events. She took what I said the wrong way, saying, “You didn’t want to “friend me, but wanted to come to my parties?”

I resolved to do things differently in my new job and plunged into Facebook friend relationships with my current coworkers. It hugely backfired. One of them is a Facebook “power user.” She uses Facebook to leverage her career brand and shares multiple stories daily with her network of hundreds of individuals, including almost all my new coworkers.

When I opened my feed yesterday morning, I learned she reshared a personal story I only intended sharing with those I personally friended to her network, which includes most of my coworkers. I immediately unfriended her, but fear everyone at work knows way too much about me. I’m embarrassed, have asked those I trust to delete it, but don’t even know many of the coworkers who received it. What do I do to dig out of this mess?


Once you add coworkers to your Facebook page, you blur the lines between your work and private lives and lose control over what you’ve posted, allowing others to decide which of your stories they’ll share.

There’s much you can do to control the damage you fear.


Ask the power user to delete your story. By removing it from her feed, she stops continued transmission, with any new shares showing a “this content isn’t available” message. If some of her friends already reshared your story, those shares might circulate, however, it’s likely others haven’t yet reshared it.

When you talk with your power user, don’t jump down her throat. Unless you put a “please don’t share this beyond my page, this is personal for those I consider my friends,” she had no way of knowing you considered your story private.

Next, realize many of your coworkers didn’t see the post. They might not check their feeds daily and may only skim through the deluge coming from your power user. Some may have glanced at the first lines and then disregarded the story because they didn’t know you and so weren’t interested. Others read it but have already forgotten it.

As you yourself stated, you’ll benefit from learning to navigate the Facebook/workplace connection. According to the technology company Igloo Software, 76% of full-time employees connect with at least some of their co-workers on social media. When you friend coworkers, you get to know them, discover shared interests, and allow them to know you at a deeper level.

At the same time, 71% of the employees Igloo Software surveyed don’t post on social media, fearing coworkers might see their post. The three-part answer: limit those you invite as friends; learn how to adjust your privacy settings to ensure who can and cannot view your posts; and post only good quality content.

Finally, your story is out there and is part of what made you the person you are. Perhaps this social media accident happened to help you lose any embarrassment about your past.

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.