February 25, 2010 / 3:50 PM / 8 years ago

Facebook friend your boss? Americans say no

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - It is a common fear among users of Facebook and other social media around the world -- how to deal with a friend request from your boss or employee.

A survey released on Thursday found that 56 percent of Americans say it is irresponsible to be friends with a boss and 62 percent say it is wrong to be friends with an employee.

But 76 percent believe it is acceptable to be friends with a workplace peer, according to the survey of 1,000 people by Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project.

“When the roles change what do you do then? Do you unfriend someone if they have now been promoted to be your boss or if you’re now their boss,” said researcher Kelly Holland.

“We get into some really sticky situations there in terms of what people will think is responsible,” she said.

When using social media at work, 73 percent say it is not appropriate to update your Facebook status, 82 percent say you should not upload photos, 72 percent believe tweeting is wrong and 79 percent say it is not acceptable to watch online videos.

Yet 66 percent say it is fine to check your personal email while at work.

“When people focus on responsibility, they know what the responsible thing is to do but whether they are doing that in practice or not is a different story,” said Holland.

Americans are split on whether companies should review the social media profiles of job candidates with 52 percent saying it is appropriate and 48 percent saying it is unacceptable.

Social media can also lead to some difficult decisions when it comes to family and relationships. Sixty percent of those polled say that it is “completely acceptable” to unfriend an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.

More than 40 percent of parents believe it is irresponsible to post photos of children online. Thirty one percent monitor their children’s Facebook accounts and almost 70 percent are friends with their children on Facebook or MySpace. But 72 percent limit the time their children spend on social media networks.

More than 80 percent of parents say that teachers should not interact with students online, but they are split when it comes to whether social media should be used as evidence to punish students’ behavior.

“The social media arena is incredibly complex in terms of responsibility,” Holland said.

But despite the murkiness of social media responsibility, there is one area that nearly three-quarters of Americans agree on -- they think it is “egotistical and a waste of time” to develop a Facebook page for a pet.

The poll was taken between January 12-15.

Editing by Patricia Reaney

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