A Facebook dilemma – one account or two?

Originally posted on my own blog - comments here or there are welcome.

I’ve been wrestling with a problem for ages now, and despite several discussions and debates, still haven’t reached a conclusion. The problem can be summed up as follows:

Should you use your existing personal Facebook account for work purposes, or set up a separate professional profile?

By “work purposes” I mean acting in an official capacity, such as administering an official Facebook Page. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume everyone we’re talking about already has a personal Facebook account. I realise not everyone is on Facebook, but if you’re not, this isn’t such a problem (although you arguably shouldn’t be in charge of a professional Facebook presence without experience of the platform!).

Are two separate profiles better than one?

Why two profiles?

There are quite a few reasons why having separate work and personal profiles would be beneficial:

  • It allows you to keep work and home life separate, so that you’re not getting emails from your work’s Page in your personal inbox at the weekend or on holiday
  • It avoids the risk of accidentally posting a personal update to a work Page
  • It keeps the public away from your personal profile
  • If you leave your job, it’s simply a case of deleting your work account, rather than trying to unpick all of the professional associations with your personal account
  • Any requirement for an employee to use a personal social media account for work purposes could be a breach of human rights

Additionally, some professions have strict guidelines about the use of social media and Facebook.

The Scottish Social Services Council states:

"“Friending” or allowing a person who uses services or their carer to be your online friend or follower is not acceptable for a registered social service worker as it creates a personal relationship outside of your workplace. And it leaves both workers and people who use services open to allegations from comments they might post."

Whilst the General Teaching Council for Scotland says:

"only use official channels of communication e.g. GLOW and work e-mail addresses"

and

"firmly decline student-initiated ‘friend’ requests from pupils and do not
instigate any yourself."

Both are clear, then, that it is inappropriate to have contact with clients or pupils through personal social media accounts or e-mail. So any official use of Facebook to communicate with these groups is hampered – any official Page administrated by one or more personal accounts, linked to personal email addresses, poses a risk. And for the above professions, a serious breach of the guidance could result in disciplinary procedures and potentially being struck off their registers, ending your career.

So it seems fairly obvious – have two accounts and keep your work and home life separate.

Facebook doesn’t agree

However, having two accounts is against Facebook’s terms:

"You will not create more than one personal account."

Rule 4.2 of Facebook’s terms

And, although unlikely, I know of people who have had one or both accounts suspended as a result, leaving Pages floating without an admin and clearly impacting the individual’s personal life as well as their work.

(A third option is to create a “false” identity but again it’s clearly against Facebook’s terms and I’ve heard of accounts getting shut down for this too)

This is a contradiction that seems impossible to solve, and I’m yet to find a decent compromise. Sadly the conclusion seems to be that you either break the rules somewhere, or end up not doing Facebook at all. None of these is really acceptable, and the best solution I can think of would be for Facebook to relax its rules.

What’s the answer? Are you facing the same problem? How are you getting around it? Or, if you’re just ignoring the rules, how have you justified that? Please leave a comment and help me solve this riddle!

Note: KHub users should also see this thread on the subject.

 

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2 Comments

James Coltham 7 Years Ago
PS the SSSC tell me that they plan to review their guidance and will be consulting on this later in the year.
Gavin Crosby 7 Years Ago
I think what is most telling here is the notion that it is ok to break rules. the argument for having multiple ids or fake ids seems to be ' I've been doing it for years and it's fine'. If , as folk keep telling me, we need to see the internet as a place, then we need to display the same behaiour that we would in a real place. As emplyees, particularly in my sector of youth work, would we really behave that way in a real place - On email I'm Gavin but on Facebook I'm Jo - would we say that in the youth club I'm gavin but in Asda I'm Jo? It is ok to lie as long as you don't get caught? It's ok to steal from facebook because they are a huge company and can afford it? - would we say it's ok to steal from Asda because they can afford it? Recently I've spoken to a colleague who had his work facebook ID cloned and then used for spam - he could not get the spam account closed because he could not prove it was his without exposing his personal account. A couple of issues here - firstly, it is not just the facebook police who could expose you, secondly it may be that the more challenging your area of work, the more likely you would be to be subject to malicious activity by other users.