Jean asked: Is it okay to 'friend' your colleague(s) on Facebook?

A year ago, my comforting cloak of privacy, induced by a feverish box-ticking exercise on Facebook's so-called privacy settings, fell off with an uneasy thud.

A friend of my Facebook chum stumbled upon a wall conversation among a few of us (she must have been peering at his Facebook account by his side) and flared up.

She is married to the subject around whom this perfectly harmless and hilariously funny conversation revolved - discreetly, but not quite, as it turned out.

My point - NOTHING is private on Facebook. Do not let the privacy settings lull you into believing otherwise.

'Chocolates - emotional eating!', you post one evening after a frustrating day at the work mill. Do you seriously need your colleagues to know the inner workings of your mood swings triggered by a demanding boss or an annoying co-worker?

So, how do you navigate the potentially discomfiting event of one day finding the dreaded 'friend' request from a colleague? You have only two click options: 'confirm', or the indelicate 'not now'.

Experts advocate having thick lines drawn between one's personal and professional life, regardless of the rapport you share with colleagues.

'We do not recommend blurring the lines between your professional and personal lives. The information you share on Facebook could impact how your colleagues or boss see you in the workplace,' says Mr Chris Mead, regional director of Hays in South-east Asia.

'If you do form genuine friendships in the workplace, you should still think carefully before you choose to friend them on Facebook. Do you trust them enough to view all your posts and photos?' he says.

Explain to your colleagues that your professional preference is to keep work out of your Facebook space, which is private. If that leads to some awkwardness, it will be short-lived. Better that than including them in your network and possibly jeopardising the spontaneity of your posts, I say.

'Or you can turn to Facebook's privacy settings to censor the content they can view,' says Mr Mead.

Still, that too can ultimately be a less-than-tactful approach. There is no point accepting a request from a colleague out of cordiality when she can discover that you have barred her from viewing your photos or posts.

If you really cannot stomach any of this, Mr Maneesh Sah, Towers Watson's marketing director for Singapore and South-east Asia, provides a simple option: 'If you would like to stay private, you should set the privacy on your account so that you don't show up in people searches.'

Better that than having to de-friend the colleague later during one of your friend-purges.

If you have a professional account such as LinkedIn, you could invite her to link up there instead.

Restrain yourself from oversharing, although this may be harder to do for 'FB junkies'. 'Never complain about your work, boss or colleagues online. Be professional when it comes to your work,' says Mr Mead.

If you are still not convinced, these two words should serve as an adequate deterrent - Samuel Crisp. Apple's UK retail store sacked the worker last year for 'gross misconduct' after he posted a string of critical comments about work on Facebook. Here's the punchline - a colleague- friend on his Facebook squealed on him to the store manager, which led to his dismissal.