Help Me Establish A Double Life
August 19, 2012 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I enjoy using Facebook for entertainment purposes - I get a ton of party invites and information about my friends that way. However, I believe Facebook can also be a useful networking tool for my professional career, and I've underutilized it in that capacity because I'm hesitant to friend my co-workers or managers.

It's not that I don't LIKE my co-workers - they're awesome people. It's just that I don't want them to see a lot of the details of my personal life, especially not the pictures or the invitations to various events.

Can you lock the visibility of any pictures you are tagged in (even pictures that are from other people's pages), so that people in your co-workers group can't see them, but all your other friends can? If so, how?

I am also toying with the idea of creating two separate facebook profiles - one for my "real self" (which would have a different name that only my friends know, and which is completely locked) and one for my sanitized "corporate identity." Is this legal and permitted by Facebook's Terms of Service? And if so, what would be the best way to minimize the chance of having one profile be discovered by HR departments while maximizing the probability of having the other profile get found?
posted by wolfdreams01 to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It is totally possible, using Facebook friends lists and privacy settings options, to do what you're describing with a single account.

However, it would be far easier and less nerve-wracking to create an account on LinkedIn for corporate "friends" and keep Facebook for your personal life.
posted by erst at 6:09 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not to be snarky, but that is what I use LinkedIn for.
posted by stew560 at 6:10 PM on August 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

Nthing LinkedIn. There are too many things that can go wrong on Facebook that render it ill-suited as a true business networking medium.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:15 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I am completely aware of Linked-In and I use it already. It has its merits, but the significant disadvantage of it is that it doesn't let you stick in people's minds by commenting on their status from time to time. My goal is to establish an emotional rapport with these professional contacts, and Linked-In is simply not good at that because nobody posts things that they care about on a personal level to Linked-In. Occasional e-mails work as a substitute, but depending on how close you are to that contact, they may feel awkward or forced. Posting the occasional insightful comment or humorous quip to a professional contact's FB page is easy and can leave a positive vibe, especially if done in a tactful manner.

I don't mean to threadsit, but telling me about Linked-In isn't too helpful (even though I do appreciate your effort to help). I am specifically looking for ways to make Facebook meet my needs.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:18 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have "groups" setup on facebook. I adjust each privacy setting for posts, pictures, status updates etc and specify which "list" can view that particular item... they have an option too for everyone to see it but list x.

Anyway, setup "lists". My lists or groups are... People, Friends, Family, Coworkers, Professional Contacts, Besties and then meticulously go through your friends list and place them in a category (I have some people in two). When you accept a friend request remember that once you have your facebook set up like this you will always need to put someone in a group. Here is a link that facebook shows you how to set a list up.

I am not sure how to set up past posts but I believe there is a way right in the privacy setting page. I've had my account set up like this from the day I started the book of me. I have not had an issue yet (that I am aware of...).

Hope this helps.
posted by MyMind at 6:30 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Friends of mine that do this seriously keep a professional account under the name you'd type into Google and add a lot of professional details and a personal account under initials or some other easy identifier like a nickname with few/no professional details. I don't think it's permitted under the Facebook TOS, but that's what they do.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:38 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My goal is to establish an emotional rapport with these professional contacts

Quite honestly, it would creep me out if one of my professional contacts tried to do this with me via facebook. I understand, generally, what you're trying to do, but facebook is not the right tool for it. So while the "professional FB profile" is a good idea (against the TOS, but plenty of people do it), it solves the problem for you (how to use facebook professionally without exposing your personal life), it doesn't solve the same problem they face.

It's well and good that you don't want coworkers and professional colleagues "to see a lot of the details of my personal life", but keep in mind that they don't want to show you that stuff, either. The "personal boundaries" thing needs to occur on both sides, and your solutions only solve one side of the equation.
posted by deanc at 6:45 PM on August 19, 2012 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I know this is sort of not answering the question, but maybe it will be helpful.

What about Twitter? Most people using Twitter as a professional platform also post occasional things of personal interest. Tweeting an interesting article or a friendly comment is unintrusive and a good way to stay in touch. You can also interact with people you haven't "friended" yet, which can be a nice way to meet new and interesting people. In my experience, it has that mix of personal and professional, but it doesn't have the same volume of personal information that facebook does (for me at least).

But I'm fb friends with lots of coworkers (no bosses though). YMMV.
posted by jeoc at 7:00 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

You might also consider that other workers and managers are probably similarly averse to mixing Facebook and work, so you're not going to have much success reaching them via FB anyway (or at least the ones worth reaching).

I have a hard rule about FB: nobody at my job gets friended, period. It's tough because I work for a very large company with a big presence in my city. But there is no freaking way I'm going to let my work life get anywhere close to the activities I partake in in my personal life, either now or 20 years ago (e.g. via "hey remember this moment of indiscretion?!" posts by friends that I get tagged in).

And using "groups" features in Facebook is a non-starter. FB has shown itself over and over to be utterly unconcerned about our privacy. That is, one day they'll quietly change their rules, or make some gigantic screwup, and suddenly BOOM work and personal life completely intermixed. "Oops, sorry."

Linked In.
posted by intermod at 7:12 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding that Twitter is a better place for this. Bonus, you don't need a mutual follow to get on someone's radar screen.
posted by desuetude at 7:17 PM on August 19, 2012

I would also find it extremely unprofessional of a business contact if they were using Facebook to connect with me on a personal level, particularly if it's done outside of the context of liking an official Facebook page of your business or service or whatever. Facebook is not the way to go here and I urge you to reconsider. You may be in a position where you feel like you can curtail the content that is shown to your business friends, but what will happen if they're not as savvy and they show you something that mortifies them? You'll be the one that loses because they will disassociate with you so they can save face. I've been told many, many times by recruiters and by friends who are high up in various companies that the people who seek them out on Facebook quickly become personas non grata. It's not a good idea.

Meet with people offline if you want a personal connection with them. Facebook is for socializing with actual friends -- use Twitter if you want some kind of middle ground.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:18 PM on August 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

I suspect that's not permitted by facebook's TOS, but you should really read them to answer that.

You should also consider that there's something a little creepy about friending people to try to develop an emotional rapport on a personal level while simultaneously hiding your own personal content from them. Because it's a little creepy, it could backfire and have a paradoxical effect.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2012

Yes - Twitter is the place to build rapport in that kind of way.
posted by heyjude at 7:43 PM on August 19, 2012

I'm a professor and a lot of professors do this. It is a bit of a pain to manage 2, but it is doable.
posted by k8t at 7:56 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only coworkers I've friended on Facebook, I did so after I left that job because I wanted to keep in touch. And even then, only the very few that I knew pretty well -- and that I didn't want or need anything "professional" from. Facebook really isn't the place to hang out with colleagues.

Then again, my partner the academic uses Facebook extensively for networking. But her CV also includes a comic named "Oh Shit, I'm in Grad School," so YMMV.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2012

My FB account is largely work-related but I'm a freelancer who juggles multiple projects at once. I almost never post anything "personal" other than it's my anniversary or something moderately bland ( since I took time off for my mom's funeral, I did let people know of her death.) I accept most friendship offers but don't comment on other people's posts very much.
I've never had anyone react badly to my contacting them for work-related stuff or asking work-related questions, but I work in a fairly relaxed business, documentary film.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:44 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I understand you want to make Facebook work for you. I understand this - my union is on Facebook, and so are some of my colleagues. It's not a linked in kinda thing. They ask me for my screenname and I'm all *mmblemmble* because I want to connect with them, but my FB is more personal right now. So. Facebook!

I am also toying with the idea of creating two separate facebook profiles .... Is this legal and permitted by Facebook's Terms of Service?

Technically no. But I know several people that have done this very thing, for this very reason. It goes against the ToS, but unless you're a spammer, it's extremely unlikely you will ever be noticed by FB. So, take that into consideration.

one for my "real self" (which would have a different name that only my friends know, and which is completely locked) and one for my sanitized "corporate identity." And if so, what would be the best way to minimize the chance of having one profile be discovered by HR departments while maximizing the probability of having the other profile get found?

Well you don't need to delete your current FB and start with a new one (if that's what you're contemplating doing). Continue using your current FB with your friends - simply make sure it's locked down. It can still be under your real name (unless you have a one in a billion name). The new account could be a different form of your real name. If you already have Mike Smith, your work account could be Michael A. Smith.

Min/maxing "discovery" can, to an extent, be accomplished in your profile info. For your private FB don't put your work location or (m)any pictures of yourself on your profile wall. For your work FB, make sure your work and background are right there on the profile and you have numerous business-like pics of you on your wall (for us visual learners out there!) Include steady updates using field-specific keywords. Also make sure there's a way to contact you outside of FB. I hate when I do a search for a company and can ONLY find their facebook.

I'm not sure what you mean by "discovery", though. I don't think HR's troll the internet looking for new talent. If you're looking for a new job near in the future, though, and are worried about them googling, I don't know how much control you would have over that. My only suggestion is, if someone from your work friends your personal account, don't accept that invitation, but extend an invitation back to them from your professional account - I've friended professional accounts and then gotten invitations to personal accounts and not thought it a big deal.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:08 PM on August 19, 2012

Best answer: People's alternate accounts are constantly popping up in my "Recommended Friends". My brother's dummy account, which I share no direct connection with beyond being his friend, has been recommended to me many times. Something to keep in mind re: discovery.
posted by Lorin at 10:27 PM on August 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: While I understand where some people are coming from re: hell no, use Linked In instead, I think I work in a field or am from a generation (or both) where this is more common. I work with truckers a lot, so I get a free pass on a lot of shit that wouldn't be prudent in certain, more professional company. When I started my job, I became FB friends with some coworkers. Mostly ones who I see socially as well as at work. A short time thereafter, my boss requested to be my friend. That was awkward, because while she's fine to work with she is TOTALLY my fuckin' boss, and I don't consider her a friend. So she is excluded from nearly everything I post, save for the occasional dog picture, or whatever, so that she feels like she's still in the loop. I am considering just unfriending her completely though, because now that I've known her longer I have learned she doesn't post on FB at all (or hides me from her stuff) and it feels like a waste of time. Anyway!

I have a friend who's a tennis coach. She has a personal account with her LastName FirstName as the name, and her professional account is FirstName LastName, like how most people would probably search for her. I do think she probably has a hard time keeping the personal one a secret since she probably pops up in the "You Might Know" section of tennis person's account, but she can always just say no to them (and as others have suggested, friend them from the other account). That might be slightly uncomfortable but if you don't feel like explaining "This one is more for networking" because it might hurt someone's feelings, then you could just say "Oh I don't use that one anymore" (or something).

Also, my work is big on Twitter. I have a Twitter account that I use at work and it's a combo of work-related things and personal things. It is tricky to know where to draw the line, though, so YMMV. I suck at it and often regret having the account, but when I stopped Tweeting my boss said he missed my tweets.

In summation: yes it is a thing that can be and is done. I don't think you're weird for preferring FB to Linked In. Twitter could work, too.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:29 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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