This may seem like a trivial problem, but I’m having a Facebook friends dilemma. When I started my Facebook page last year, I vowed to only accept close real-life friends as Facebook friends.
But as the site becomes more popular as a marketing tool, I’m getting more and more requests from co-workers and other people I deal with on business-only terms. I’m afraid to turn down their friendship requests because I don’t want to seem rude. But then again, there are some very unflattering, drunk pictures of me on Facebook that I’d rather my boss not have access to. I’m also not sure what to do about strangers who request my friendship. I’m flattered when they find me and go through with a request, but what if they’re pervs?
How should I handle this situation?
— Choosy Friend
After allowing anyone and everyone to be my friend on MySpace, I learned a valuable lesson. Having too many social networking site friends that you wouldn’t spend time with in real life makes for a crappy experience on such sites. Since I allowed any band, fan group, or creep-o stranger friend from across the country, I wound up with more spam messages on my MySpace site than correspondence with actual friends.
And so I begrudgingly moved over to Facebook, hoping to start with a clean slate. My new rule: I will only approve friend requests of people I’ve met face-to-face or ones that I share mutual Facebook friends with (i.e. people I know must be cool because my friends think they’re cool).
However, I also allow co-workers and business friends on Facebook. Thanks to Facebook’s current privacy controls, there’s no need to turn down your boss’ friendship. Under the privacy settings, you can choose to customize what friends can and cannot see (for the record, I have not blocked any “friends” from viewing my pictures, but then again, none of mine are terribly embarrassing).
In a few weeks, Facebook will unveil some new privacy settings that will allow users to block certain friends from viewing individual status updates, thus allowing even more control (for more on the changes, check out this informative Computer World article).
Don’t hesitate to invite your co-workers into your social networking sphere. Just be sure and block them from those pictures of you dancing drunkenly down Beale Street.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org.