The article entitled ‘Managers warned to watch their backs on Facebook’ (24/11/2009) in Lawyers Weekly is a timely reminder of the perils of social networking and the boundary that should be wisely maintained between professional and personal life.
It is worth remembering at all times that social networking is a public communications tool and you probably would not want to publish anything to a social networking site that you would not be happy to pin to the door of your home or office, unless appropriate and reliable privacy settings are in place.
However, it is also worth remembering that privacy settings on a social networking sites will be only as effective as the trustworthiness of your ‘friends’ who have access to your information on any particular network.
Admittedly, it can be very difficult to maintain the boundary between professional and personal life, especially if you receive ‘friend’ requests on social networking sites from colleagues. There are many stories of working relationships turning sour after such requests are declined. On the other hand, there are just as many dangers lurking in accepting such an approach and opening up your private life, and potentially the private lives of your friends, to your colleagues.
If you cannot live without social networking, e.g. your Facebook presence, to overcome this growing problem my advice is to set up two separate profiles, one for your family and friends and another for professional purposes. (But be very careful when posting updates not to confuse the two!)
This way you can keep on happily uploading personal post to the profile you share with your family and close friends and maintain a more professional approach to your social networking interaction with your colleagues.