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Why doesn't my spouse let me see his/her facebook pictures?
December 16, 2009 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Is this normal? Would you be worried if your spouse blocked you from seeing his/her pictures on facebook?

My life partner, let's call him/her LP, blocks me from seeing any pictures on facebook tagged with "LP’s name.” LP has photos, albums posted up on facebook, but has not changed LP's privacy settings to let me see these photos.

I know this because LP and I often spend time together when one of us is on facebook. We'll send each other interesting things we've found when we’re apart, or when we're together, we'll say, "Hey, look at this!" We’ll talk about friends in common, and just generally share our facebook lives like we do our meatspace lives.

We've been partnered up for a long time. LP is, I understand, a private person. And I'm pretty sure that LP is not cheating with someone, or putting up pictures that would be explicit or shocking.

I just don't understand why LP would not allow me to see LP's photos. If LP isn’t having an affair, then this doesn't make sense to me. I've asked LP a number of times why this is the case, and LP has said, "I don't know," or "I'll fix it," or "why does it matter?" This makes me kind of sad, because we both work, and spend many hours each week apart from each other. I think it’s nice and reassuring to be able to pull up a picture of LP in the middle of a typical boring work day.

So this is my question: if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird? Are there any circumstances that would make it seem more or less weird? If you asked your spouse to change this, and your spouse refused, what would you do? I guess it may be obvious that our life partnership is pretty much like most others, with good points and bad points. But that’s probably another question.

So, if you’ve read this far, and if you care, you may feel you need to know more. It’s for you that I’ve set up an email account that you can follow up with me on –
anonymailone-askmefi@yahoo.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (94 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
So this is my question: if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?

Wow, um, I hate to say DTMFA, but your spouse is supposed to be the one person in the world you share you deepest, darkest secrets with. You can see your partner's pictures on FB? That's shady.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:22 AM on December 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


This would definitely be a red flag to me.
posted by something something at 8:23 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your spouse has pictures of his/her ex and themselves on Facebook that they don't want you to see. They don't want to un-tag themselves in for whatever reason but they also don't want you to see them.

At least, that is the first thing that came to my mind. Would you be upset if these pictures were still tagged on their profile?

To answer the question: yes, that is very strange and I do think it would be worth talking about.
posted by Loto at 8:24 AM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sit LP down, tell them this concerns you, bring a laptop, tell them to change it right now. Observe reaction(s).

Harsh, but you've already asked nicely.
posted by unixrat at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


If you asked your spouse to change this, and your spouse refused, what would you do?

It sounds like you've asked and on at least some occasions FB has said "I'll fix it." My approach would be to say "Okay, let's do that now" during a low-stress moment when you both have a little bit of time. If for some reason LP balks, then I think you have a problem. As with all things in realtionships, you can decide if this is a dealbreaker for you. I think if it were my relationship, it would be only because I'm uncomfortable with that level of inaccess [friends would say "hey did you see the funny picture of LP?" and I'd say "no I don't have access to LPs photos." and I'd feel weird about that] A decently "normal" reason for this is perhaps there's something in LPs past that LP would prefer to have more private and is afraid it might suddenly surface in photos starting an uncomfortable discussion at an awkward time (just guessing here). So I'd say while there are reasons I personally could understand this decision, I personally would not feel comfortable with it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:27 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've asked LP a number of times why this is the case, and LP has said, "I don't know," or "I'll fix it," or "why does it matter?"

And what do you respond when LP asks why it matters? Why does the conversation end there?

This is one of those questions where we can't really help you at all: you and your partner need to communicate. We can speculate all day long about LP's motives but nothing is going to substitute for an actual conversation between the two of you.
posted by ook at 8:27 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huge red flag. It'd be one thing if LP didn't post pictures on Facebook, or took down pictures, or even something as innocuous as de-tagging his/her name from pictures. This isn't a "general privacy" thing, it's him/her not sharing pictures with you that he/she is otherwise happy to share with other friends.

It is absolutely not normal that LP has pictures up on Facebook, a site for sharing pictures (among other things), and then specifically blocks you from seeing them. A life-partner or spouse doesn't need to be party to every moment of life, but this sort of behavior is suspicious.
posted by explosion at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Did LP block just you from seeing his photos, or everyone? It would be less weird to me if LP decided he didn't want anyone at all to see his photos- like if he was feeling self-conscious about his looks. If it were something like that, I'd start keeping photos of him on my Desktop so I could look at them whenever I want.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yes, I would think that was utterly bizarre. Especially because he/she would have to go out of the way to block you, since the default is to let all friends see your photos.
posted by miss tea at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2009


See a somewhat similar post here.

I agree that this is troubling and/or infuriating. While I would never in a million years think I should be privileged to read an SO's emails or diary or whatever, I could not brook being excluded from part of their otherwise public profile on FB or whatever.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:29 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does LP know that a user can un-tag themselves from pictures permanently? I've untagged myself from some embarrassing college photos so that they don't show up on my profile or through a casual search. Then he can share his tagged photos with friends without having to worry about the weird ones.
posted by muddgirl at 8:31 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just what ThePinkSuperhero said. I have it set up so that NOBODY else but me can see pictures I was tagged in. And it's because a lot of the pictures are really ugly, and I don't want that to be the foot I put forward with with people who don't really know me.

If it's just you that can't see them, that's a little odd. If it's everyone, then I guess I don't see the problem.
posted by hermitosis at 8:31 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?

Not personally. I have my settings that friends can't see on my profile things tagged of me (versus things I post). It never occurred to me that I even could make an exception for my spouse. I just don't like people to be able to tag pics of me that I don't like.

Are there any circumstances that would make it seem more or less weird?

Since you asked, and your spouse seems to be stonewalling about it, I do think that circumstance makes it seem weird. If my spouse asked me about tagged pics, I would give him my explanation but be happy to show him the pics and, if it mattered to him, change it. I think it is weird to promise to change the setting, and then not do it. If the setting is important to YOU, I think you deserve to have that be respected at least with an honest discussion.
posted by bunnycup at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Weird, weird, weird.
posted by desuetude at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So this is my question: if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?

Certainly. If this person were having an affair, the object of the affair might be tagging him/her on photos on Facebook. This, unfortunately is very troubling.

I would definitely sit him/her down at a real meeting. A set meeting with a set time. I would say that you are having serious doubts about the marriage due to this issue and their inability to deal with it. You are going to have to decide whether the marriage as a whole is what you want. Because this would be a dealbreaker for me, if I had a marriage in which the partners had agreed to be monogamous.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:33 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another vote for weird.
posted by ob at 8:35 AM on December 16, 2009


Yes, yes I would be worried.
posted by jefeweiss at 8:35 AM on December 16, 2009


Very weird and merits a real conversation in which you explain why it's important to you and he explains why he's unwilling to let you see pictures he's sharing with the rest of the internet. I definitely wouldn't tolerate the status quo much longer though. He might have perfectly innocuous reasons but your resentment and suspicions are only going to fester the longer this goes unresolved.
posted by balls at 8:36 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you've asked and on at least some occasions FB has said "I'll fix it." My approach would be to say "Okay, let's do that now" during a low-stress moment when you both have a little bit of time. If for some reason LP balks, then I think you have a problem.

This advice is spot-on, but I would do it at the time you meet to discuss the matter with your spouse. Don't be angry, don't be defensive. Focus on being calm and in the moment. State that you are only a human being with regular human worries and that this behavior concerns you for very obvious reasons.

Note that it could be a think where nobody tags anyone.

Also, you may want to have a mutual friend search his or her page, or better yet, allow you to sign in as them one time to see if the setting is global--that is, are all people unable to see tagged photos of your spouse or just you.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who else does LP block? If this person blocks everyone then maybe they are just feeling private. It can be pretty crazy-making when people post photos of you where you may not look your best or photos from high-school or college that you'd rather just forget. So far, I haven't seen anything really hideous of myself but I have de-tagged myself from other people's pictures.

But, yes, blocking you from seeing the photos. Really weird. Time for some good, old-fashioned communication.
posted by amanda at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2009


Weird.
posted by fixedgear at 8:38 AM on December 16, 2009


It's shady, and it sounds like LP is passive aggressive.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:38 AM on December 16, 2009


If your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?

Yes, very weird.

Are there any circumstances that would make it seem more or less weird?

It's already infinitely weird (IMO), so I don't think anything could make it seem *more* weird. I'm hard pressed to think about any circumstance that could make it seem less weird.

If you asked your spouse to change this, and your spouse refused, what would you do?

This isn't going to be a very popular answer here on AskMe, but assuming spouse is actually refusing (i.e., it's not a matter of spouse's not knowing how to change this), I would conclude that there was something on FB that spouse didn't want me to see. I would assume that spouse was not being honest with me or had not been honest with me in the past and that whatever is on FB would expose whatever spouse is/was trying to hide. I would start paying very close attention to how spouse behaves, what spouse says and what spouse's schedule is. I would be looking for some sort of clue about what is actually going on. I would assume that the thing being concealed would be something of a relationship-threatening matter otherwise spouse would just be upfront about it. Once I had some idea what was actually going on, I would then decide how to proceed.
posted by Maisie at 8:42 AM on December 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


How does your spouse feel about photos of themself generally? FaceBook currently indexes over 300 photos of me, of which I uploaded and tagged exactly one. I dislike photos opf me specifically, and value my privacy in a general sense, so I don't want all my friends to have pictoral records of exactly what I got up to at every social event I ever attended. That's not because I've got up to anything I'm ashamed of, but simply because it's none of their business what I get up to when they're not around.

So I have it set so my friends can't see my photos which, for a long time, meant my SO couldn't see them either. Since the privacy settings got a bit more flexible she persuaded me into allowing her to see them. However, if given the choice free from my friends' and SO's complaints, I'd have all my tags completely removed from FB. I don't have any dark secrets or get up to anything that I don't want my SO or other friends to know about, I just don't like everyone I know having access to a huge, searchable stack of photos of me and my social life. Arguably irrational, but harmless and not an indicator that anything is amiss. I just err on the side of privacy.

So, yeah, your SO could be up to something nefarious, or they could just dislike the idea of having hundreds of other people's photos of them collected into one place. Maybe they don't like photos of themselves (are they self-concious about their appearance? Could they have learned the habit of avoiding photos from their parents?) or maybe they just need to feel that they can have bit of privacy and/or independance. Don't just demand that they open their settings and give up this little slice of privacy; instead, ask why they chose to set them like this and try to understand their reasoning.
posted by metaBugs at 8:43 AM on December 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Totally weird. Either somethings funny is going on in those pictures, or there's some kinda of power trip going on by not letting you see them. Or else why wouldn't he give you a reasonable explanation?
posted by Rocket26 at 8:44 AM on December 16, 2009


I"m going to have to agree that this is odd. The red flag for me was that LP isn't just blocking tagged photos of him/herself, but the actual albums that he/she posted him/herself! If one is so self-conscious about one's crappy photos that they block everyone from seeing them, then why post an album in the first place? I can see blocking hideous tags that one didn't want up there in the first place, but.....everything? Definitely time for a talk.
posted by lucky25 at 8:44 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Contrary to several posters above, there are many reasons not to panic that LP is having an affair: 1. They may have blocked everyone. 2. if they were having an affair, they could untag themselves from each individual photo. 3. if they were having an affair, they'd probably see to it that photos didn't get posted in the first place. 4. If they were having an affair with someone who couldn't be relied on to keep it quiet, they'd be as worried about their Facebook Wall as about their photos.

You need to discuss this in a focused way because spouses should care about the things that concern each other, and not brush them aside. Meanwhile, no great need to fear the worst.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:46 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sure, one possibility is that he has something creepy to hide and he is actively trying to hide it.

But another possibility is that he's embarrassed about something that you would actually find completely harmless. Maybe he had a really bad hairstyle in college and he's bizarrely mortified by it.

And another possibility is that at one point, he was playing with his Facebook settings and he decided he didn't want to give every one of his friends the power to share photos of him with every one of his other friends, so he turned that off for everybody. Or maybe it wasn't even that carefully thought out -- he was messing around with Facebook settings and ended up changing it. And now he can't quite remember how he did it -- it's not entirely intuitive -- and he's not sure how to change it so that you can see tagged photos but everybody else can't. So when he says "Why is this a big deal?" it's not the response of a guy who has something to hide; it's the response of a guy who doesn't want to admit he can't do something technical, and who genuinely doesn't understand why his life partner is making a huge relationship issue out of a freaking Facebook setting.

So with all respect to Ironmouth, giving him the "I'm having doubts about this relationship" talk seems awfully premature. I'd suggest first approaching it in a really calm and self-deprecating manner: "I know I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but I miss you during the day, and I'd really like to be able to look at pictures of you."
posted by yankeefog at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll set up camp on the other side of the divide. Though it's a little tough to tell from your description, I'll give LP the benefit of the doubt and assume that LP may just not know how to adjust the privacy settings. FB has a lot of them, and they can occasionally be daunting. If LP doesn't understand that this is a Big Deal to you, which sounds plausible, I would make sure that LP knows that it is a Big Deal, and then offer to sit down with LP sometime to walk through adjusting the privacy settings. If LP balks at that point, then the red flags would go up for me.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only possible explanation I can come up with is that he's planning a surprise party/birthday present/christmas present/wedding proposal for you, maybe together with mutual friends, and is afraid this might be spoiled by you finding pictures of them where they can be seen decorating the huge heart-shaped cake they are preparing for you or a picture of their band together in a studio, recording a schmaltzy love song for you, or whatever.

Otherwise, I find it really really strange. I read my SO's live feed all the time and he reads mine. We also often surf to fb together (i.e. looking at the same computer screen), sometimes using his, sometimes using my account. This seems very natural to me and I'd find it strange if he would tell me "Sorry, you can't see this, it's my facebook". Assuming he has the usual amount of friends, e.g. dozens or even hundreds, the stuff he puts on FB is not exactly "private" (as opposed to email, phone conversations or his desk drawer).
posted by The Toad at 8:50 AM on December 16, 2009


I'm nthing the need to make sure that it is just you that is being prevented from seeing these photos, and not all friends in general. Because that makes a big difference.

Do you have a friend who is facebook friends with both of you that you could ask about this? Just sit down with them and say, "it's strange, but I can't see any of LP's pictures, can you see them?

I just went and took a look at Facebook's privacy screen. If your mutual friend can see them but you can't, that means he has his photo album sharing set to "Only Friends" (or "Friends of Friends", etc) but then specifically entered your name in the "Hide This From" tag field, and that is a big huge red flag and you need to talk about it with him at the very least.

More likely though, is that he has his photo albums set to "Only me" instead of "Specific People" (where he could then type in your name). I'm not sure how long the "Specific People" option has been around, but not putting you in there might just be laziness/forgetfulness. That is a lot less weird.

Check this out, it'll definitely help in figuring out how much offence you're supposed to take.
posted by dnesan at 8:51 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll agree it's weird and I'd be annoyed as well, but I'm going to play devil's advocate here:

Are these pictures blocked for everyone, or just specifically you? Did he deliberately go to his settings and allow "all pictures tagged of me" to be viewed by all his facebook friends, and then specifically block you? That would be a huge red flag, and completely inexcusable. Do you have any common FB friends -- and can they see LP's pics?

However, if he's just set his pictures such that nobody can see them, not even his friends, then you were just included in the sweeping generalization of privacy settings. This I could understand. In fact, that's how I have my tagged pictures -- just because I want to see the pics tagged of me before everybody else does! Him "fixing" it in this case involves going and explicitly allowing you (and only you) to see them, which offhand I'm not even sure is possible since FB redid their privacy settings. (It probably is, I just haven't looked). But this is more of a PITA for something he doesn't think is important, and I could understand just putting it off.
posted by cgg at 8:52 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Came here to say just what cgg said. He may just have all pictures blocked for everyone. There is an exceptions list, though, see if he will add you to that.
posted by phunniemee at 9:00 AM on December 16, 2009


There are two non-crazy options here:

1) Your partner does not understand how Facebook tagging works and has blocked all access to all photos for everyone. That's an easy fix.

2) Your partner has blocked only you, in which case he is willing to share something with friends and strangers he is unwilling to share with you. That is a much harder fix.

Personally, though, I'm a member of the "trust but verify" camp and I'd be dropping by a mutual Facebook friend's house for a look at what I'm not supposed to be looking at before proceeding on the basis of non-crazy. At this point, after several requests, I'd want to make very sure that anything a partner so obstinately didn't want me to see wasn't cleaned up before I was finally granted access.

Before engaging in this protectionist deception, however, I'd lay out clear rules for myself: anything shown that made me unhappy but pre-dated our relationship I'd say nothing about; anything within our relationship that was mutually agreed to be absolutely out of bounds, I would raise immediately.

Caveat: While I would adopt this tactic fully believing I would not find something I did not want to see, you should not adopt this tactic if you are not prepared for the opposite to happen.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:02 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Contrary to several posters above, there are many reasons not to panic that LP is having an affair: 1. They may have blocked everyone. 2. if they were having an affair, they could untag themselves from each individual photo. 3. if they were having an affair, they'd probably see to it that photos didn't get posted in the first place. 4. If they were having an affair with someone who couldn't be relied on to keep it quiet, they'd be as worried about their Facebook Wall as about their photos.

You need to discuss this in a focused way because spouses should care about the things that concern each other, and not brush them aside. Meanwhile, no great need to fear the worst.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:46 AM on December 16 [+] [!]


Yes, but the reason to block OP from seeing pictures tagged with LP's name is to conceal what might go up on FB in the future. LP can untag current pictures, but can't proactively untag pictures before they are posted, which means that LP has an ongoing exposure. Let's assume for a moment that LP did have an affair that ended badly. LP may be able to prevent the affair partner from writing on LP's wall by setting LP's profile to private and unfriending AP (I'm pretty sure), but LP can't stop AP from tagging photos in AP's album with LP's name.
posted by Maisie at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yellow flag, not red, at worst.

I just don't understand why LP would not allow me to see LP's photos. If LP isn’t having an affair, then this doesn't make sense to me.

Because some of the photos are of LP from long before he knew you, and finds embarassing either for serious (e.g., was formerly engaged and hasn't told you) or trivial (e.g., doesn't like his old hairstyle) reasons? There's several pictures of me on Facebook that other people have scanned and put up from 10+ years ago, and at least one from 30+ years ago. Nothing too embarassing in my case, but I can see why some people would be reluctant to share that sort of thing, even with a spouse.

I don't share the opinion that every couple must be willing to share everything from their past, no matter how trivial, or else their relationship is doomed, but some people need that level of openness in a relationship; others work fine without it. That may be the larger, enveloping issue you'd want to include in your discussion with LP.

I think it’s nice and reassuring to be able to pull up a picture of LP in the middle of a typical boring work day.

I don't think this is the main issue here, but to address it as a side issue, why not just take your own pictures of LP?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:05 AM on December 16, 2009


You've told him that it bothers you, and he doesn't care. Even if he's not cheating on you, that's pretty bad.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:10 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I get what people think is ominous here. As a kind of novice at Facebook, I draw analogies to the off-line world. Would people think it weird if a spouse had a journal that she asked her partner not to read? How about if a spouse had some old friends that she had private conversations with?

I don't think any of those things would be strange or signs of anything ominous. Just that relationships involve lots of sharing and intimacy and it's nice to have some areas of your life that are private from your spouse.

I wonder if maybe our sense of privacy is changing because of the online social world.
posted by jasper411 at 9:10 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, no one's giving LP the benefit of the doubt here? If I asked my husband to fix this and he didn't, I'd assume he forgot. If I kept asking and he didn't do it, it might be because I'm nagging him and he feels I don't trust him. It's probably not a high priority to LP, because obviously Anon can look at LP anytime he/she wants, and presumably Anon has access to SOME photos of LP to put on his/her desktop. Why would LP jump to fix something that's not a huge deal?

This is larger than Facebook photos - there is some other reason you don't trust LP. Address your trust issues and the FB thing will be no big deal.
posted by desjardins at 9:12 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would people think it weird if a spouse had a journal that she asked her partner not to read?

If my spouse had a journal that his friends were allowed to read, but I wasn't, then yes I would think that's an issue of concern. I consider myself to be not only my spouse's lover, but his friend as well. If he no longer considers me to be his friend and confidante, then that's something that needs to be talked about and not passive-aggressively evading.
posted by muddgirl at 9:22 AM on December 16, 2009


I'm gonna give LP the benefit of the doubt. Like others have written, it's possible that everyone is blocked from seeing tagged photos of LP. I have this setting activated on my account because 1) there are unflattering pictures, and 2) I'm just weird (i.e., not entirely rational) about my stuff.

If my boyfriend wanted me to unlock pictures just for him, I'm not even sure how to do that. Also, I could see myself "forgetting" because I don't want to deal with it, and it wasn't that big of a deal until the boyfriend brought it up and now I'd be wondering why my boyfriend suddenly is all interested and whether he trusts me and blah blah blah.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:24 AM on December 16, 2009


I would indeed be weirded out by this.

But after being a relationship with someone for so long, I wouldn't turn this into a OHMYGODDUMPTHEM NOW situation. People are complex and odd and there may be a perfectly good reason (to them) why they're doing this. So, a conversation is in order. Explain, without judging, that you're uncomfortable by the lack of access. This may be as simple as different priorities or LP not fully grasping what this means to you.

In short, rather than going into this with negative and positive thoughts (i.e. is this weird or wrong), approach as an opportunity to discuss an issue and come to fuller understand of how you are as individuals and as couple.

If LP continues to be cagey about, then you yes, there may be a larger issue.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:24 AM on December 16, 2009


I just checked and my girlfriend can't see my tagged photos on facebook. This is because nobody can. If she asked me to fix it, I would say that the facebook privacy issues have been a little cagey lately, but that she is free to sit down at my laptop and look through iPhoto anytime she wants. All of the photos of me online are uploaded from my iPhoto library, except for a very few uploaded by friends. I strongly believe if we had this hypothetical conversation, she would not mind having limited or no access to a few photos.

I leave photos of myself tagged for this reason: I can block people from seeing them if they are tagged. If they aren't tagged, I no longer have that control.
posted by chrillsicka at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2009


Hopefully this this happened accidentally, so I would approach it like you assumed it did—"honey, did you realize you blocked me...?" This would be a good way to start the conversation. If your partner says it was intentional, push to find out why. I can't think of a good explanation, but maybe there is one. If not, tell your partner that you respect her/his privacy, but it makes you uncomfortable that she/he would share LESS with you than she/he shares with mere friends and acquaintances.
posted by bryanlacksfocus at 9:29 AM on December 16, 2009


I'm really surprised that people are saying that anonymous should dump LP. It's just facebook. Seriously.

As others have said, it could be that LP has his/her settings at the level where only S/HE can see what is tagged of her/him. If that's the case then, well, drop it. Not a big deal. And if you need a photo of LP during the day, buy a disposable camera. Take a bunch of pictures of LP. Develop them. Don't look at them! Put them in unmarked envelopes and take a random one to work with you every day. Repeat entire process when out of photos.

However, if s/he only specifically blocks you, that's totally weird. And I'd just bring it up casually, while both on laptops, take advantage of the latest facebook & privacy settings kerfluffle and be like, "hey, facebook totally changed the privacy settings to make them weird and sketchy recently. let's make sure that our info is protected at a level that we want. oh, and by the way, while we're tinkering with that, let's make it so that I can see photos tagged of you!"

If the latter, as far as reasons: maybe ex-girlfriends? maybe extreme weight fluctuation? maybe doing things in photos that you wouldn't approve of? maybe LP used to identify with a different gender and doesn't want you to know? Who knows! Tons of crazy options!
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 9:33 AM on December 16, 2009


Yes, you should be worried. I know passwords for email, FB, etc... of my wife and vise verse.
If you have a lief partner who can't even share private photos then that's a roommate.
posted by WizKid at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2009


Would you be worried if your spouse blocked you from seeing his/her pictures on facebook?

I suppose I'd be a bit puzzled and would like to know her reason for doing this. So I would ask her. I wouldn't, however, feel in any way entitled to see them. I respect her decision to share her photos with me or to keep back. I even understand that she might have mementos she wishes to keep between herself and a few of her friends. I think of her as trustworthy, responsible adult who knows what she's doing (and, incidentally, who is smart enough not to leave incriminating evidence on her FB profile in the unlikely case that there really is something fishy going on).

But I really would like to have a reason, if only to keep me from playing guessing games with strangers over the Internet.
posted by Orchestra at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're specially excluded, it's weird. If a whole group of people (or everyone) is excluded, then it's less weird, and probably nothing at all: Facebook's privacy options and controls are weird too, and they keep changing.

But heck, even if you ARE specially excluded, I can still think of a dozen valid reasons for this that fall short of "OMG an affair DTMFA immediately!"

(Muddgirl's answer is the first thing I thought of, and chrillsicka refines it. These embarrassing photos might be in his past, after all, and he might not have posted them, right?)

I don't think anyone is required to share absolutely everything with someone else in order to have trust: I think that's a bit of a juvenile model. But Facebook and things like it sure do push the envelope. After all, if he had a box of old-fashioned paper photos he didn't want you to see, and he hid them from you... would that really be so stressful or odd? You would probably never rummage through his drawers or boxes uninvited, but you expect access to everything he has online. (As do most people; there's nothing wrong with you here.)

These are strange days.
posted by rokusan at 9:37 AM on December 16, 2009


I just had a quick poke on facebook and you can block individual people from seeing your pictures but I think that's a new feature (in the changes that happened about a week ago). So I'm assuming for the purpose of this response that he's actually blocking anyone from seeing his pictures.

if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?
If they were blocking only me, yes. If they were blocking everyone, then no not at all. Anyone can upload a picture and tag you in it without needing to ask your permission. I know you can detag yourself but only after the fact.

Are there any circumstances that would make it seem more or less weird?
As above - blocking everyone, not weird.
Your boyfriend's personality comes into it too. I'd love to detag myself from a bunch of facebook photos but that would raise questions and call attention to my low self esteem - which I don't want to do. So if your boyfriend just hates photos of himself, that's less weird.
You say he has photos and albums up on facebook which is more weird - but if you can't access his photos, how do you know they're there?
Porn - maybe he's using facebook to store his porn and doesn't want you to see - you can decide for yourself whether that makes it more or less weird ;)

If you asked your spouse to change this, and your spouse refused, what would you do?
Honestly, I don't see any refusal on your spouse's part. You never say that he's specifically said that he doesn't want you to see the pics. Consider the possibility: first time you asked and he said 'I don't know', he genuinely didn't know - maybe he poke his privacy settings once just to fiddle with them and didn't realise that he'd blocked everyone or he had a good reason at the time but has since forgot. Since he didn't really think about it or see it as a major issue, he forgot. The next time you asked, he promised to fix it but he forgot again. By the 3rd time you asked, he's beginning to wonder why you're making such a big deal out of something he considers relatively unimportant and maybe this triggers his inner stubbornness (that thing where the more someone nags you about something, the more you resist). I'm not saying that this is what has happened, just suggesting it as a possibility.

If you're really so concerned about having a picture of him you can look at during the day, why don't you take a picture of him and upload it to your facebook profile. If he refuses to let you take a picture of him, you know he has an issue with pictures of himself ;)
posted by missmagenta at 9:38 AM on December 16, 2009


Wouldn't the easiest thing to do be log into mutual friend's account who's friends with him and see if they can see the pictures? I'm sure a girlfriend of yours wouldn't object. Whether you consider this to be a privacy invasion of his is another matter, but if it's a public profile, doesn't seem like it'd be all that private.
posted by Dukat at 9:51 AM on December 16, 2009


Consider the possibility: first time you asked and he said 'I don't know', he genuinely didn't know - maybe he poke his privacy settings once just to fiddle with them and didn't realise that he'd blocked everyone or he had a good reason at the time but has since forgot. Since he didn't really think about it or see it as a major issue, he forgot. The next time you asked, he promised to fix it but he forgot again. By the 3rd time you asked, he's beginning to wonder why you're making such a big deal out of something he considers relatively unimportant and maybe this triggers his inner stubbornness (that thing where the more someone nags you about something, the more you resist).

This is exactly what I was getting at and would probably be exactly what would happen in my household.
posted by desjardins at 9:58 AM on December 16, 2009


I'll offer a possible, more innocent explanation.

My first Facebook friends were all people from high school. I later was friended by my partner. After that, all the embarrassing photos from high school started showing up. I'm not talking embarrassing in the sense that they caught me in compromising positions -- I mean embarrassing as in frizzy 1980s mullet; glasses that were big, round, and thick beyond comprehension in 2009; a smile that had not yet learned to compensate for imperfect teeth.

Your partner is your partner, yes, and there ought not be secrets, yada yada. But sometimes what happened in the 80s should stay in the 80s, and those poor schmucks who never mentally or physically left that small town will not realize this and will wantonly post photographic evidence of your least favorite years for your entire network to see, and you'll realize then that one of the biggest drawbacks of this social networking thing is that it publicly casts a very wide net through all of the phases of your life, but one of its chief advantages too is that it has technology built in to help minimize that awkwardness factor.

At least, that's how it was for me. In fact, I eventually stopped using Facebook because it was too much of a church/state collision for me between people from my past, extended family, and people in my present.

That's not always a sign of keeping secrets. For some of us, it's simply a coping mechanism.

Again, just wanted to offer an alternative theory.

(And if it's anywhere near the mark, yeah, he should at least try to explain it to you.)
posted by mudpuppie at 10:03 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So this is my question: if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?

Yes.

Are there any circumstances that would make it seem more or less weird?

A reasonable explanation and a sincere offer to let me look at the photos or the whole page any time I asked.

If you asked your spouse to change this, and your spouse refused, what would you do?

It's hard to tell if you've completed the conversation about "what matters," and that would be the first thing I'd do. I'd say it matters because it's not about some dumb photos, it's about wanting to feel mutually trusting and secure in our relationship, and that when a partner is evasive or withholding about sharing their information, it's reasonable to feel that you are not being trusted and that you might not be able to trust the person that's withholding the information. And THAT is the problem - not Facebook in itself. In olden times it could easily have been someone making a point of not checking their answering machine when you were in the room, opening mail in private, or asking you to pick them up at some odd location rather than wherever they were supposed to be...that's why it matters. It's a conversation about your requirements for a happy relationship and whether your partner is willing to work to meet those requirements.

Only if this conversation did not go well, in other words did not result in a change of behavior or a solution that was truly acceptable to both parties, would I think it needed to become more serious - like, do-we-get-therapy, do-we-break-up serious.

I suspect all couples do some things to 'humor' each other that seem arbitrary and pointless to one party, yet mean a lot to the other. It's not so important what those things are, so much as that both parties can understand that it means something to their partner, and work to make them feel loved and that their needs are met.
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nthing the weird.
posted by chez shoes at 10:07 AM on December 16, 2009


By the 3rd time you asked, he's beginning to wonder why you're making such a big deal out of something he considers relatively unimportant and maybe this triggers his inner stubbornness (that thing where the more someone nags you about something, the more you resist).

This is exactly what I meant by "passive-aggresiveness". If I am being nagged by my spouse about something, the childish thing to do is to react with silent but petulant stubbornness and intentionally not do it. The adult thing to do is to use big girl language and, you know, explain why my own preference not to share my photos trumps his preference to see them on FB.
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just had a quick poke on facebook and you can block individual people from seeing your pictures but I think that's a new feature

Nope, that's been around for awhile. I've used it almost as long as I've been on FB, which is about 1.5 years. For example, see item #4 on this allfacebook post from last February, which discusses the feature.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:20 AM on December 16, 2009


Do we know for sure that anyone else has access to the photos? I can't find where it's mentioned that only the OP is blocked from viewing LP's photos. Can someone clarify this please?

If you have a lief partner who can't even share private photos then that's a roommate.

I disagree. I have many private thoughts and moments and things that I don't feel obligated to share with my husband. Because I have some privacy, I'm now just a roommate? I'll share what I please and feel comfortable sharing, and he knows he is free to do the same. Do you open your partner's mail or look at their cell phone messages? I don't even like my husband rifling through my handbag to get something. And I have absolutely nothing to hide. Private is what private is, and it's a different thing to each person.
posted by iconomy at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have many private thoughts and moments and things that I don't feel obligated to share with my husband. Because I have some privacy, I'm now just a roommate? I'll share what I please and feel comfortable sharing, and he knows he is free to do the same. Do you open your partner's mail or look at their cell phone messages? I don't even like my husband rifling through my handbag to get something. And I have absolutely nothing to hide. Private is what private is, and it's a different thing to each person.

If someone is posting pictures to a public site but limiting certain people from accessing them it's not quite private, is it? I have a written journal that I don't share with anyone, my wife included, but it's kept in a locked drawer and no one has access to it but me. That's private. If I was instead posting to LiveJournal or a blog, I have (tacitly, perhaps) acknowledged that my journal is no longer private, even if I somehow restrict access to it. Nothing on the Internet is invisible. The OP is justified in their concern.
posted by tommasz at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2009


seriously... it's just a website. '

after a couple of "who's that blondie that wrote on your wall?" and "you told me you were busy but i saw you online on facebook" we both decided to unfriend each other. result? we never argued about facebook anymore and both lives improved.

i have different groups of friends with whom i share(d) different parts of my life. just because they are all "my friends" it doesn't mean i share everything with everyone.

and yes, there are some parts of your private life that are private also to your spouse. even more so when they are innocent.

i share jokes with my guy friends that i wouldn't necessarily share with my mom or my girlfriend - or sometimes across group of friends.
posted by madeinitaly at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2009


The thing is that it bothers you, the spouse. Whether or not it would bother someone else is kind of orthogonal--if your spouse isn't listening to why you have issues with this and talking it through with you, but instead brushing it off, that's not helping the relationship.

Even if your spouse is like some folks here with "I don't want anyone to see my tagged pictures, not even my spouse" it would be a lot better, as a relationship-reinforcing strategy, for them to explain that to you rather than just passively-aggressively fobbing you off every time you mention it.

You're asking us a question that only your spouse can answer. That indicates a problem in communication between the two of you, and that's something you guys would probably benefit from working on together.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:44 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If someone is posting pictures to a public site but limiting certain people from accessing them it's not quite private, is it?

Did the OP ever say that LP is limiting only "certain people" from seeing the pictures? I think it's ambiguous in the question.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:55 AM on December 16, 2009


Did the OP ever say that LP is limiting only "certain people" from seeing the pictures? I think it's ambiguous in the question.

Perhaps, but who posts pictures on a website that only they can see?
posted by tommasz at 10:57 AM on December 16, 2009


Perhaps, but who posts pictures on a website that only they can see?

It's not the pictures LP is posting himself/herself, it's pictures posted by third parties which have been tagged with LP's name that are being blocked.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:02 AM on December 16, 2009


tommasz, people who don't understand FB privacy settings.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2009


It's not the pictures LP is posting himself/herself, it's pictures posted by third parties which have been tagged with LP's name that are being blocked.

Wait, I take that back. Re-reading the question, it's not clear whether that is the case.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2009


If someone had tagged me in a picture where I was drunk and without pants on the hood of a police car, I'd make damn sure my spouse would never get to see that either.
posted by HFSH at 11:10 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I emailed the address given by the OP, asking a couple of the questions raised in this thread. The OP gave me permission to post their answers.


"When LP asked why it mattered, I gave the answer I believe I gave in the thread: that I like to look at pictures of my sweetie in the middle of a boring workday. It makes the day a little less boring. But also, I think there is a trust issue here, that's lingering not too deeply beneath the surface. The answers seem to be teasing this out too. As for why the conversation ends at that point, I'm not sure. I tell LP what I just told you, and there's really not much response.

I still don't know if LP has blocked everyone, or just me. I'm trying to find that out right now.

And the Devil's Advocate is right: some of the pictures that I found most precious were pictures of my sweetie from long ago, before we met. And now I can't see them, because I didn't post them: a 3d party did. And I'm not connected to that 3d party. "
posted by dubold at 11:51 AM on December 16, 2009


Perhaps, but who posts pictures on a website that only they can see?

This is apparently a moot point in light of the OP's update, but if there are pictures posted by LP I could understand if LP set them so no one else could see. Simple explanation: LP uses Facebook as their sole photo-hosting site but is self-conscious about how they look in photos. Maybe you and I don't use Facebook for that because we realize that Flickr is a better option, but many people use Facebook rather than Flickr as their default photo site.

Also, some people are hyper-vigilant about not allowing photos of anyone to be publicly viewable online. Given the incredibly elaborate/ominous articles I've been reading about how to fine-tune your Facebook privacy and minimize the risk that unknown people will look at your personal info/photos, I wouldn't blame someone for erring on the side of caution on any issue involving Facebook and privacy.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2009


Yikes! Run. As fast as you can. In the other direction.
posted by sarabeth at 12:13 PM on December 16, 2009


Coatlicue wrote: "You've told him that it bothers you, and he doesn't care. Even if he's not cheating on you, that's pretty bad."

I just want to point out that if I indulged my SO's every irrational impulse, our relationship would have ended a long time ago. I tried that for a while, but it let the crazy out. Of course, I directly tell her I'm not going to do what she's asking because she's asking because of the crazy and not for any rational reason, rather than saying I'm going to do something and then not.

And I'm sure as hell not giving her all my passwords. We're different people. We may be joined at the hip much of the time, but we still have separate lives. If our level of trust is so low that she has to have all my passwords (and I hers), so that we can check up on each other, it's not much of a relationship at all, now is it? More like some sort of unhealthy codependency.

Personally, I'm not interested in a high school level drama filled relationship. (seriously, getting concerned about FaceBook?!) Thankfully my SO agrees in principle even if her protective instincts sometimes come into play inadvertently.
posted by wierdo at 12:34 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


As several people, starting with ThePinkSuperhero, have pointed out, we don't know whether Anonymous's spouse blocks everyone, or Anonymous, from seeing their photos.

I contacted Anonymous and asked, and got this response:
I'm not sure whether my spouse blocks everyone from seeing the photos. I think my spouse blocks everyone from seeing the albums, but I don't know for a fact. I know that some other people have posted photos of my spouse, because I saw them, before they were blocked.

I really want to thank everyone for your answers. This is very helpful to me. Please continue to let me know what you think or feel about this.
It is my personal opinion that, while it would be pretty weird if Anonymous's partner were blocking only Anon from seeing their photos, if Anon's partner blocks everyone from seeing their photos, that's not unusual or weird; there are several quite good reasons someone might not want to take part in facebook photo-tagging.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:36 PM on December 16, 2009


Did you ask them to unblock you ?

If yo uasked them to and they said no then yes its shady. If you did not ask them to unblock you first then stop over reacting.
posted by majortom1981 at 12:40 PM on December 16, 2009


The OP wrote: I like to look at pictures of my sweetie in the middle of a boring workday. It makes the day a little less boring.

So post some on your own Facebook album, then, and you won't have to go searching through the tags of people you don't even know.

I still think your spouse's unwillingness to discuss the issue with you is a real problem in communication, but now it seems like you also have some serious control needs. You're not entitled to have access to every photo of your spouse ever taken--if you want to look at photos of said spouse, roll your own.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:50 PM on December 16, 2009


As for why the conversation ends at that point, I'm not sure. I tell LP what I just told you, and there's really not much response.

Yeah, this would be what I meant by "you two need to communicate." If I was having that conversation with my wife, and it led to "not much response" followed by awkward silence, yeah, damn right I'd think we had a problem. But the problem wouldn't be the facebook photos.

If this is a big deal to you, then talk to your partner about it instead of sitting around trying to mind-read him or her. If you don't get a satisfying answer, then talk to your partner about why that is.

For what it's worth, I don't think what your LP is doing is necessarily weird at all, especially if s/he blocks everyone; nor do I think it'd be something worth making a big deal over. But I am not you; if it's important to you then it's important to you, and that's just fine. Any guess I might make about why your LP does this would be just that, a wild-ass guess, just like all the other wild-ass guesses in this thread. Your partner knows the answer. We don't.
posted by ook at 1:03 PM on December 16, 2009


I like to look at pictures of my sweetie in the middle of a boring workday. It makes the day a little less boring.

That's not why you REALLY want to see the FB photos, though. If you're smart enough to use a computer, you're smart enough to figure out some other way of looking at photos of your sweetie.

You need to call them now. Like right now, and say, "sweetie, I know this sounds a little crazy, but remember when I asked you about unblocking your Facebook photos? It's just really been bothering me, and I need you to do that now." The more you obsess over this, the worse you make it and the more you make yourself into a victim of a crime you don't even know exists. Just rip off the bandaid. Seriously, right now, stop reading this and go call them.
posted by desjardins at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know this is never a popular sentiment on MF, but if I were you, OP, I would be very, very tempted to snoop if LP continues to refuse you access.
posted by Pomo at 1:09 PM on December 16, 2009


There is definitely something up. Is LP a recovering alcoholic or drug addict? Or do you just have a strong aversion to either of these activities and he may not want you to see a picture of him taking shots (for example)? He may be having an affair or it may simply be something stupid and small that he lied to you about. Like perhaps he went to a strip club with a bunch of his friends and didn't tell you. It could be just something he is a little embarrassed about that he wants to keep from you or it might be nothing, but he is paranoid someone will someday tag him in a photo that he doesn't want you to see and you'll see it before he untags himself.

My money is sort of on this last one. He may just be excessively private/secretive even though he really doesn't have any deep dark secret he wants to keep from you. I would personally force the issue.
posted by whoaali at 1:16 PM on December 16, 2009


"When LP asked why it mattered, I gave the answer I believe I gave in the thread: that I like to look at pictures of my sweetie in the middle of a boring workday. It makes the day a little less boring. But also, I think there is a trust issue here, that's lingering not too deeply beneath the surface. The answers seem to be teasing this out too. As for why the conversation ends at that point, I'm not sure. I tell LP what I just told you, and there's really not much response."

No shit there's a trust issue (not to mention a communication issue!). Do you really think LP is so dense that 1) he/she has incriminiating photos up on freaking Facebook and thinks they won't get back to you from some mutual connection, and 2) he/she doesn't know you well enough to guess that your pushing on this is about more than passing time at work? AskMe's only known you for like 20 sentences and we figured that out.

My reading of the situation is that LP knows there's more to your request (or you'd just post your own photos rather than pursuing this), and is offended that you're distrustful and trying (poorly!) to hide it, so he/she's being irrationally reticent rather than calling you on it (see: communication issue).

So: be the grown up, sit LP down and say "look, not being able to see your Facebook photos brings up some trust issues for me and makes me uncomfortable. I understand that you may have good reasons for keeping them private (like, they're embarrassing, or have your old college ex in them or something). But just for my peace of mind, could you please let me see them?" Easy.

By the way, I don't think using the word 'weird' is helpful here, in the original question, or the responses. Everybody's weird. If what you mean is "engaging in behavior consistent with concealing an affair", just come out and say it. Say it to the LP too, for that matter.

And apologies if this comes across as a bit aggro. I've been LP in a similar situation, and it felt incredibly disrespectful for my SO to casually (and transparently!) dig around for information rather than just being upfront about her concerns.
posted by a young man in spats at 1:19 PM on December 16, 2009


wierdo, it's not about indulging every weird irrational impulse someone has. It's about being respectful of the upset feelings of someone you care about, even when you think they're being silly. Treating your partner as if their feelings are dismissible or unimportant is usually not a good formula for success.

Perhaps the OP could be more clear with him, but the OP's spouse brushed off a direct question about why these picture are inaccessible. It's hard to believe that he didn't come away from that conversation with the knowledge that this behavior is causing the OP distress. Therefore, he could afford to be a bit more thoughtful than he has been. At least, if he's interested in keeping his spouse's trust.
posted by Coatlicue at 1:19 PM on December 16, 2009


wierdo, it's not about indulging every weird irrational impulse someone has. It's about being respectful of the upset feelings of someone you care about, even when you think they're being silly.

True, but if I don't like having photos of me on facebook; and my Significant Other doesn't like me not having photos of me on facebook; then if my SO insists I do and I refuse, I'm not the only one being insensitive to my partner's feelings.

If Anon's SO has a good reason for not wanting tagged photos of themselves on facebook; and Anon's SO has expressed this, by turning the feature off; then Anon can ask his/her SO to turn it back on, but it's reasonable for Anon's SO to refuse.

That said, in that situation Anon's SO could save themselves some hassle by clearly expressing their refusal, and giving a reasonable rationale. Why this has not yet happened I don't know.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:38 PM on December 16, 2009


By the way, I don't think using the word 'weird' is helpful here, in the original question, or the responses. Everybody's weird. If what you mean is "engaging in behavior consistent with concealing an affair", just come out and say it.

I certainly didn't mean "engaging in behavior consistent with an affair." I meant "this strikes me as a head-scratcher, also."

From the OP: So this is my question: if your spouse did not let you see your spouse’s photos on facebook, would you think it was weird?

From me, others: Yep, weird.
posted by desuetude at 1:47 PM on December 16, 2009


There is at least one photo out there of him doing something he does not want you to know he was doing, posted by someone that you are not Facebook Friends with. No need to step softly on this: if someone got a picture of him doing something he doesn't want you to know about, that's a big trust issue and unixrat's suggestion seems reasonable.
posted by davejay at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2009


Oh, and one more thing: it's entirely possible he has nothing to hide, but is refusing on principle -- except he hasn't said that's what he's doing, which makes it less likely.
posted by davejay at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2009


Facebook lets you set up special lists/filters for your friends. I have all of my family members (and, increasingly, my students) set up on a filter so they can't see my pictures. Perhaps your LP has one of those lists set up so he can access subgroups ("family") more easily. He might have put you on that list without thinking about the implications, and now he keeps forgetting to take you off it.
posted by lilac girl at 2:04 PM on December 16, 2009


In a bit of a rush between classes so my sincere apologies for not reading all of the preceding comments, but --

Facebook has been rolling out new privacy options in "waves", and in my not very humble opinion, they are not always clear as to what they're hiding if you choose to be less than completely public with everything. For example, Facebook changed my settings and suddenly my friends were blocked from viewing the list of my friends on my profile -- they could only see mutual friends. This lead to my father Facebook-messaging me to inquire why my sister and I were blocking him from viewing our friends! It was not at all intentional and I had to Google just to find out the little hidden mouse-over pencil remedies the situation...

Has your spouse been blocking his photos for a long time or is this recent? It may not be intentional... it's not really clear from your question.

(My reaction to my father was also "I don't know" and (internally) "why does it matter?" and then "Ok, I'll fix it...")
posted by asciident at 2:38 PM on December 16, 2009


Coatlicue wrote: "wierdo, it's not about indulging every weird irrational impulse someone has. It's about being respectful of the upset feelings of someone you care about, even when you think they're being silly. Treating your partner as if their feelings are dismissible or unimportant is usually not a good formula for success.

Perhaps the OP could be more clear with him, but the OP's spouse brushed off a direct question about why these picture are inaccessible. It's hard to believe that he didn't come away from that conversation with the knowledge that this behavior is causing the OP distress. Therefore, he could afford to be a bit more thoughtful than he has been. At least, if he's interested in keeping his spouse's trust.
"

There's a difference between being respectful of someone's feelings and doing something because of some irrational feeling they have. To my mind, the proper course of action in that case is to not just give in and do what they want but to help them come to an understanding of why they are having these feelings and working through them together, which may or may not involve giving in to the irrational impulses.

Also, there's an enormous chasm between "brushing off" and "causing distress." Under normal circumstances, a brush off of something like this should not cause distress, and depending on the OP's reaction may not have even done anything to indicate being distressed at the situation.

All that said, I fully agree that it would be reasonable, if the spouse desires to be particularly accomodating, for the spouse to open up the pictures for viewing by the OP. I personally choose to avoid that road whenever possible because it tends to lead to reinforcement of the behavior, which neither party usually finds ideal.

Basically, in an ideal world, the OP wouldn't be thinking "affair." (Which could be construed by some as manipulative and controlling, although I doubt that's actually what's going on here) Either that or the SO wouldn't have blocked access to the pictures. Now where they find themselves is an inflection point where they get to decide what kind of people they want to be in their relationship. How they handle this will likely dictate the handling of similar issues in the future.

And I just wrote a novel, sorry.
posted by wierdo at 2:52 PM on December 16, 2009


I do think it's strange that he wasn't clearer with you about why you couldn't see the pictures. that'd be the first thing I'd ask about... not with any of these manipulative, passive-aggressive evasions either. ("Oh, I happened to check facebook, and there's some things I noticed ( you lying cheating &^%*$ ...)")

IMO, if you can't actually be clear about the nature of your concerns (he's having an affair) you shouldn't go about trying to uncover the truth in some dishonest fashion. If looking him in the eye and telling him you're worried he's having an affair seems like it would be acting crazy, or being too insecure, or would make you seem like you don't trust him... if you really can't bring yourself to just do it, you may want to think about how valid it is to act on these feelings at all. If you really believe he's up to no good, I think you should be able to be honest about it.

Trust your gut and be honest about it.
posted by ServSci at 3:13 PM on December 16, 2009


You need to find out if he blocks everyone. If he does, it's a pain in the ass to get just you unblocked, so I would just stop worrying about it at that point. If he blocks only you, or only you and a few people, then that would be cause for concern.
posted by ishotjr at 3:25 PM on December 16, 2009


Just to throw this out here.. a possible innocent scenario and one that I think I've come across. Your SO has a photo taken with a few other people. The person who posts it on Facebook - or one of the other people in the photo - has their photos blocked unless you are a friend. Therefore, no one who is not on their list can see it. Regardless of whether your SO has his photo tagged, as long as the other person has blocked theirs, unless you're on their list, you wont see it. Doesn't mean your SO is trying to hide it, he may have it open to everyone but the other people may not. I think it may work like that. I could be wrong though. All it takes is one person to not want it public, and that one person doesn't have to be your SO.
posted by Jubey at 6:00 PM on December 16, 2009


+1 to desjardins response above, about finding the underlying trust issue.

Also, Facebook is not real life. Guys treat it MUCH, MUCH differently than girls. I delete family members on a regular basis. I lock my wall for weeks. I remove uploaded photos. It's more like a personal journal to me than a "look at how many friends and family I have communication tool OMG puppy pictures from my aunt."
posted by Khazk at 6:52 PM on December 16, 2009


I don't think it's weird. I blocked everyone from seeing photos of me & sometimes untag myself from photos as well. I've always hated being photographed and I don't like old photos of me showing up on Facebook, they can bring back bad memories, and I'd rather not explain why. So that could be an issue. I don't mean photos that show you doing something bad or embarrassing, I mean photos that show you looking normal, but bring back a memory of a time that wasn't good at all. Like if a college friend posts a photo of everyone at a party looking all normal and smiling, another person might be like, you look so cute!, and all I can think is, I was a different person then and actually quite unhappy and behaved like a jerk at times, and would rather not talk about it, because I'm not that person any more. Even though objectively looking at the photo there's nothing amiss, whatsoever.
posted by citron at 9:06 PM on December 16, 2009


I haven't read through all the responses, and sorry if my interpretation is repeated, but two points:

* I am a curious person myself and often follow "liked" and "commented" of , and get to know about lives of their extended families, relatives of their spouses, their children, their style of celebrations - sometimes these are quite personal; I personally do tend to think that people who have uploaded and left unprotected access to these photos lack common sense (it is not the person's who "liked" or "commented" direct fault that the photos become available to their contacts). If this is the case in your situation, you would have to talk to your significant other, and work on both of your FB accounts security settings (e.g. you find a way to not publish "I liked" or "I commented" links in your FB feed).

* If you are in a rocky phase of a relationship, and your significant other perceives something along the lines of "Anonymous does not treat me as well as he/she is trying to portray to the outside world", this might be one of (weak) coping strategies: "If Anonymous currently cannot address my needs, it is my duty to ensure a deceitful message of a great relationship is given to the outside world". That would mean that your network accessing photos of your significant other is at the moment not desirable, and the deeper cause needs to be addressed. I notice how you call the person your spouse, but define relationship as partnered in the question (the question is tagged with "marriage" however). Clearly all the three can be rationally be exact description of your unique situation, but I did raise an eyebrow at first.

Disclaimer: I once (admittedly angrily) asked my former beloved to remove my name (text tags) from the titles of photos in his public galleries because he failed to treat me with decency of a boyfriend for a prolonged period of time and passively refused to acknowledge it (a situation that I perceived as hopeful to be worked out after a stressful period career-wise would subside; however seeing the photos that publicly portrayed an all happy relationship with his "girlfriend" felt inappropriate, inconsiderate, and deceitful). He got immensely insulted, removed the photos (not only the tags), and dumped me, pointing to this as one of the key reasons.

I might be completely off on both hypothetical explanations. By the way to react to one of the comments I cannot conceive how and why anyone would keep pictures of themselves with their ex, especially on a social networking site - suggesting it sounds quite off. The important is to remember that these are just photos, after all. Concentrate on the person and on relationship. Best of luck!

posted by Jurate at 11:46 PM on December 16, 2009


p.s. As life partners, it would be completely normal (expected, even) that you facebook-friend his/her friends who are close enough to him/her to take those shots - you would see photos that they post.
posted by Jurate at 11:58 PM on December 16, 2009


I know this would kind of err on the side of snooping and make me a bad person, but if I were in this situation and only going to piss my boyfriend off more by asking, I would probably ask a mutual friend to check her Facebook at my place the next time we hung out. I'd say something like, "LP's photo settings got kind of messed up and we can't figure out if he blocked just me or everyone. Are you able to see his tagged photos?".

Then, if your mutual friend is also blocked, you have more evidence (but not proof) that he has blocked everyone from seeing his pictures. It's possible he uploads pictures to Facebook to keep a copy online and never meant for people to see them.

If not, two things happen: you know that you are specifically blocked (but perhaps not intentionally) and you can also look through the pictures and maybe get an understanding of why he wouldn't want you to see them.

I am not saying that this is the 100% moral upstanding girlfriend course of action, but for me it would be the easiest thing to do without causing more drama.
posted by amicamentis at 5:34 AM on December 17, 2009


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