Before you click that next “accept” on a Facebook friend request or a LinkedIn connection, think about who is making that request. Do you really know them? What will others think about your association with that person? Could this violate any rules of professional conduct?
A few days ago we blogged about linking your business’s Facebook page to other pages. In that blog, we mentioned the old saying, “a man is known by the company he keeps,” and now we’re applying it to your personal social media profiles.
For Lawyers, Facebook Friends May Be a Professional Problem
A recent court case has been making a buzz down here in South Florida with regards to a prosecuting attorney’s Facebook connection to the judge presiding over the trial. A man facing criminal charges is seeking a motion for rehearing after it was discovered that the prosecutor in his case is Facebook friends with the presiding judge.
The defendant in the case is challenging the State of Florida on the grounds that he was not given a fair and impartial trial.
Facebook has long been a realm of interest in the legal world, both professionally and procedurally. Many court cases have been affected by evidence gathered from Facebook profiles. Some of the common ones are evidence of adultery in divorce cases and histories of stalking or threats on profiles of those charged with violent crimes.
Professionally, Facebook has created a potential conflict of interest with attorneys, judges and clients. Some argue it is not ethical for these persons to be connected via Facebook, while others argue that there’s no difference whether or not a friendship is made official with a friend request (and approval).
Our advice to any professional on Facebook: remember that ANYTHING you put on the Internet, no matter how “locked down” your profile may be, can be made public with the right tools and knowledge. If you have any doubts about how others will perceive a connection between you and another Facebook user, it may be best to forgo that response.
What about LinkedIn, the so-called “Business Facebook”?
It’s funny how we tend to see so much controversy over who’s friends with who on Facebook, yet few arguments on connections via LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn is about professional and business networking, it would make perfect sense for an attorney and a judge to be connected on this type of profile, right?
But when you stop to think about it, is there really that much difference? Both types of profiles allow you to post status updates and photos, join groups, populate information fields about yourself, and associate with business pages. The big difference is the level of professionalism each service has established over the years.
Facebook went from being a college-student only networking platform to an anything-goes social marketing playground. LinkedIn is and always has been completely business-focused, giving it much more integrity than its social butterfly counterpart.
So where should you be connecting? If it’s a professional business acquaintance, LinkedIn is where to keep those friendships. However, if you’re weekend fishing buddies, Facebook may be the appropriate place to post those pics of your next big catch.
Just remember this bit of general advice: “If you don’t want it made public, DON’T post it on the Internet!”
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