Q. Former Boss With Blurred Social Media Boundaries: My former boss at a large West Coast firm is relatively new to social media. He is a likable guy, my dad’s age, with a nice family. They hosted my own family for dinner—even for Easter—on many occasions over the years, and though we’ve moved on, my husband and I think of them warmly. As the former manager of my old firm’s popular social media accounts, I remained online friends with my old co-workers; now I’m connected to many new co-workers and friends at my new company, too. My old boss “likes” and comments on every single thing I do online. Every. Single. Thing. He’s far senior to me in our field and knowing him has proved beneficial to me professionally; I don’t wish to offend him or worse, hurt his feelings. But now he’s friend-requested my little sister and she is skeeved out. I’ve noticed he does this to other former co-workers, so this isn’t an e-stalking situation so much as it is a weird, overfamiliar breach of etiquette that, I guess, isn’t written yet. Do I say something? If so, what? I’m freely sharing these mild, not-too-personal things, and engaging with one another is the fun of social media. Just not, maybe, engaging with every single thing, at all hours of the day and night. Oh, and several people have approached me about this—folks from my old job who wonder if he’s all right, and other friends asking who the guy squatting on my page is.
A: I’d say that this is e-stalking and this Dad has discovered that with one quick “friend” request he has an endless data bank of vacation photos (oh, those beach volleyball shots!), etc., where he can indulge himself while pretending he’s only keeping up with young people in his field. Please tell your sister not to accept his super-creepy request; no explanation to him is needed. This is a delicate situation for you since he likely is a reference, and he holds sway in your field. I’m not up on the latest Facebook privacy settings, but you are a social media maven, so surely there’s a corral you can put people in who you don’t want to defriend but whom you want to have extremely limited access to your photos, updates, etc. Cordon him in there. Presumably he won’t know what happened, but if he complains he can’t see your fun pictures anymore, just explain there’s a new setting for social versus work friends, and don’t be bullied into allowing him full access.