Q: My colleague is a prominent doctor, and I recently noticed that his son has some obscene postings on Facebook. They have the same name, so an online search of the father inevitably turns up the son's reports on his adventures in the bedroom, drinking stories, etc. I know my colleague has no idea. Do I tell him?
A: If you're accessing the Facebook page by googling his name, so are potential patients—jeopardizing his credibility. For professional reasons, it's always a good idea to do a search on yourself. Point this out to your colleague and he'll see for himself what comes up. — Lisa Caputo, chairman and CEO, Citi's Women & Co.
Parents should avoid snooping in their kids' Facebook pages except in extraordinary circumstances, but if inappropriate content shows up through a Google search, all bets are off. Absolutely tell Dad. I'm a Junior myself, and long ago my father told me that he had worked hard to make a good name and I had a duty not to mess it up. Your colleague's son needs to be given the same speech. — Jack Marshall, president, ProEthics
Golden rule test: Would you want to know? I would. You can alert him without going into detail or explicitly mentioning his son. Say, "Dr. Luddite, I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but when people google you, they find some rather obscene Facebook postings under your name. You might want to check it out." — Faith Salie, host, public radio's Fair Game podcast
Q: I keep getting invited to join LinkedIn and Facebook by various people, some of whom I know I'm going to run into. How do I gracefully decline the invitations?
A: Don't worry: You're not that special. And neither am I. By which I mean, lots of people invite lots more people to join these networks. Odds are no one will notice if you simply don't respond. (I never accept the invitation.) And if a connection-craving acquaintance happens to bring it up, assure her, "Please don't take it personally—I never join any social networks."
— Faith Salie, host, public radio's Fair Game podcast
If you're already on a social network, identify your purpose for being there: It could be date finding, friend making, marketing, voyeurism, sheer entertainment, or some other reason. If it's just to keep up with family, for example, then that's the explanation you give if you run into an acquaintance. My daughters see social networking as a way to stay in touch with their closest friends. So they believe it's perfectly normal to reject a request for friendship and to delete people they wouldn't hang out with in everyday life. On the other hand, I rarely decline requests from people who want to be friends, because that's how I live every day.
— Rudy Rasmus, pastor, St. John's United Methodist Church, Houston Q: My sister-in-law is posting pictures of my infant son on Facebook. I understand that they're accessible only to her "friends," but it makes me uneasy. Is there a nice way to ask her to take them down, or am I overreacting?
A: Yes, there is a nice way for you to ask her to take them down???by copping to overreacting. Because you are a little, and you need to recognize her lovely intention. Try saying: "It means so much to me that you love your nephew and want to show him off. I know I might sound like a crazy-protective mom, but I feel uncomfortable having photos of him out there. Would you humor me by taking them down or using a more private service?" — Faith Salie, host, public radio's Fair Game podcast
There are very good reasons to be wary about anything posted on the Web. You have no control over what kind of people she may permit to "friend" her or who might eventually see the photos. But call her to deliver the message; don't use Facebook. That will establish that you're serious. — Jack Marshall, president, ProEthics