I was checking into the happenings on Facebook last night and had a very strange request come up. Someone that I know and respect sent me a request through a product called BranchOut. While their about page does more to confuse than to clarify, what I understand it to be is a way to create a professional network of contacts with Facebook—or in easier terms, think about LinkedIn-type functionality sitting on top of your Facebook network of contacts.

Mouthing off, by db*photography

Frankly, this is a terrible idea. For those of us that use social media in our jobs, we tend to have things we keep professional (LinkedIn or Facebook Page), things we have that are personal (Facebook personal profile), and things we make public for anyone to see (Twitter)1. Facebook privacy snafus aside, I do spend some effort to not only keep content associated with me clean and aggressively limit distribution. Typically, folks from work or people I meet that want to connect with me via Facebook get a filtered view (unless they go to my Facebook Page, which is professional). Follow me on Twitter, however, and you are getting the raw look. And LinkedIn? Well, that is somewhere in between where you are getting some raw and some filtered.

Now imagine that thanks to an app, you have removed the personal and professional boundaries associated with your online persona. The potential for abuse or an accidental disclosure is tremendous, and now you may be “connected” to people from your company without really even knowing it.

Along these same lines, there have been several stories recently about potential employers asking for applicants’ Facebook credentials or making friend requests on Facebook (here’s what Facebook says about the matter). If that’s a condition of employment, my advice is to simply decline or to run far, far away. If you forgot your running shoes but still want to have some fun, here are a few things you could do in return:

  • Ask the HR manager for her Facebook credentials as well as those of the hiring manager and team members.
  • Ask to see their security policies to see if giving out a password that grants access to company assets is against the rules and ask why this is somehow OK.
  • Set up a fake Facebook account and give them access to that.
  • Claim ignorance and ask if Facebook comes on a flash drive yet, because you’ve been wanting to hop onto the twitters to check it out.

I’m sure you folks out there have some fun ones you can add in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.

  1. My twitter account should have the disclaimer, “The opinions listed here are not my employers, or really even mine. Nobody should read this. []