Social media users in Japan are now experiencing a new kind of stress and even harassment at work: “social media harassment” or when your superiors at work pressure you to accept their friend requests or even like/comment on their posts.
Because social networks like Facebook technically require users to use their real names, it’s not uncommon for people to receive friend requests from co-employees and superiors. But when there is a pressure to respond, that is when the stress kicks in. According to the Japan Online Counseling Association, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization, they’ve been receiving a lot of people asking for advice on that issue and the number of those seeking counsel has increased in the past year. Employees say that they feel pressured to accept their boss’ friend requests to avoid tense relations with them at the office. Some have even cited instances where the boss or supervisor demand that they like their posts while some feel like their superiors are spying on their conversation with other people.
Macromill, Inc., an Internet research company, conducted a survey in February of last year, with 500 Facebook users responding. 42% said that they are bothered by friend requests. Of the female respondents 54% have said the same, 19 percentage points higher than the male respondents. Even if the purpose of the supervisors’ friend request is to become closer to their juniors, an expert says “SNS users should separate work from personal life, and correctly observe the distance between themselves and other users”.