Friend Request from Your Boss: Invasion of Privacy?

Friend Request from Your Boss: Invasion of Privacy?

You log onto Facebook and notice a new friend request.  Your excitement quickly turns to dread when you realize it’s from your boss.  You received a friend request from your boss?! What do you do?  If you decline, your boss will know and may hold it against you.  But, if you accept, you will have to think about everything you post or are tagged in because your boss will be privy to it.  You know you can’t ignore it… but you don’t know what to do!

Is Facebook friending employees an invasion of privacy?  While most invasion of privacy lawyers agree that it isn’t technically illegal, both bosses and employees should be careful before sending a friend request to one another.

Hutcherson Law’s Internet attorneys understand the far ranging legal implications of sending a Facebook friend request to a subordinate or superior.  As a supervisor you need to tread carefully when it comes to social media.  You don’t want to pressure your employees to accept your friend request and you also don’t want to stumble upon information that you wish you didn’t see and can’t un-see.  Take for instance, a recent lawsuit filed by a nurse against a hospital.  The nurse was fired when her employer found some controversial political statements on her Facebook page.  She was friends with several coworkers, but not her boss, and her coworkers showed the boss the statements.  The employee sued for invasion of privacy and the hospital moved to have the case dismissed.  The judge refused to dismiss the case, finding that the employee may still have an expectation of privacy on social media.

This case illustrates that there are tremendous benefits to instituting a company-wide social media policy.  This will let your staff know what is and what is not appropriate with social media accounts.  Part of the policy should specifically state that employees do not have to accept a friend request from a co-worker or supervisor if they would like to keep their page private.

Our team of Internet lawyers can craft a companywide social media policy and help alleviate the confusion surrounding social media interaction at your office.  Hutcherson Law has the experience to help you adapt to the ever-changing social media landscape.