Should the people who have the power to fire you, follow you on social media?

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

It's not a mystery that your social media account is screened by potential employers before they hire you to see if you're a responsible employee or not. Most people delete potentially problematic tweets or posts when in the process of applying for a job, but they often neglect to consider what they post after they've secured employment. But it's not such a big deal, as long as co-workers and your bosses don't follow you on social media profiles, right?

Well, sometimes your colleagues want to continue a friendship with you online and are curious about what you get up to when you're not in the office, and that's not a terrible thing. Still, we can all admit that it can get rather awkward when your boss follows your personal social media accounts.

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Here's what people have to say about their co-workers who follow them on social media:

Social media is a space I feel is reserved for friends, family and ‘fans’. That’s who I feel I’m sharing my life with. When someone from work, especially a boss of any kind starts following me or asks to be my friend, then is visibly consuming my feed, it’s hugely uncomfortable. It’s not that you don’t like them. It just feels like yet another space that’s tied to work or where you have to feel even more self-conscious about what you share. Over and above being aware of being careful about what you post.

For some people, it's awkward because the thin line between professional and personal can easily be blurred through social media interactions. For others, it may simply be that posting about your personal life might get you into trouble with your employer, based on what you post. 

Farhad Bhyat, the co-founder and CEO of Farosian, says that companies screen their employees' social media profiles, whether or not they actively follow you on your profiles. "The concept of social media screening has grown and is growing. Companies are actually starting to move more towards screening existing employees more frequently based on their initial risk profile that is present on their social media account."

Whether or not you prefer that co-workers and your employer not follow you on your profiles, you are never exempt from the consequences should you post something offensive and inappropriate, especially if you work for a particular person or company. Your social media profile is still open to critique and judgement even after you've secured the job.

READ MORE3 terrible behaviours social media carelessly endorses

Even people who have those little disclaimers on Facebook or Twitter that say 'the views expressed are that of my own and not my employer', Farhad says, do not exempt the person from being reprimanded for their posts because your immediate network (friends and family) know your employer. 

Your responsibility as an employee is to ensure that your posts do not jeopardise the reputation of the company you work for and the position you hold at that company. According to Farhad, any content that is considered high risk would be things like content that is racist in nature, sexist, homophobic, or illegal. This includes taking and posting videos of yourself saying or doing reckless things like drinking and driving and such.

If you're hiding your social media account because you don't want co-workers to get a peek into your personal life, then that's okay. In fact, Farhad shares that he doesn't feel that there is any harm in rejecting a friend request or follow request from a co-worker.

On the other hand, if you are hiding your social media profile because you're avoiding the risk of being called out for negligent posting, then you should re-evaluate what you use your accounts for and what they could do to your and the company's reputation.

READ MOREI met some of my best friends on the internet

But if you really feel uncomfortable with the idea of having co-workers and superiors on your social media profiles, rather have two accounts, Farhad suggests. 

"On Facebook, have your personal Facebook profile for personal your friends and family, and have another profile for work colleagues, suppliers, contractors, clients, things like that. Keep the work professional and keep the personal, personal. Also make use of the various privacy settings in place. Restrict access to your content to people in different groups, specifically on Facebook," says Farhad.

"The most important thing is scrutinise your content before you click that post button. If you are not willing to say it or demonstrate it onstage to a million strangers, don’t put it on social media. Because if you’re not willing to do that, then that means you’re sceptical about what you’re choosing to express; and if you’re sceptical then that means there’ll probably be a consequence," he advises. 

Watch below: people have been fired for inappropriate posts:

*Name has been changed.

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