Facebook woes
February 14, 2009 12:24 PM   Subscribe

How to manage Facebook friends and family?

So I've really tried to keep my 'circle' small. I have some 'old' friends and relatives, by the number, who pester me to add them. They would be devastated by my language and (actually pretty tame) lifestyle. What can one do? Add them and then delete? Have two facebook persona's? I can't just ignore them and in 'real life' I can juggle things just swell.
I know it's best to be open and honest with everyone, this uestion is how one can befriend 90% of people one knows, without offending the 'minority in a narrow mind-set'.
This is not a lifestyle question, and I'm not 'hiding' something big such as being gay. It's just a segment of friends who are very different, and there is no cause, and in fact probably harm, in offending them. So, some secret setting? This shouldn't be a big deal, but it's becomeing a real issue. I can't be the only one?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Keep your profile bare bones and boring, communicate in "private" ways with everyone (messages, wall posts other friends won't see, etc).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

The privacy settings for Facebook are pretty versatile. Where are you using this language? You can block specific users from seeing specific content. For instance, I have some relatives blocked from seeing my status messages so I can say things like, "damn" and "hell." I think you can do the same things with photo albums. Take a look around the privacy settings and see if it fits your needs - to access them, mouse over "Settings" at the top of Facebook and a menu will pop down with an option for "Privacy settings."
posted by bristolcat at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2009

you'll want to look at this recent post on the blue, and pay particular attention to the "friend lists" part of it. keep your family in one list and set your settings for that list appropriately.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:30 PM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know several people that keep two different profiles, perhaps with a middle initial to differentiate them, or using a nickname instead.

They use the profiles to help keep the different parts of their lives separate; whether it is because one is more for their hobby/fannish pursuits and the other is more family/relatives oriented. So yes, that is one way that you can tackle it...
posted by Jade Dragon at 12:32 PM on February 14, 2009

As a universal policy, I don't add family to any social network. When questioned about it, I simply say "no, because that would be weird."

It's just easier.
posted by tracert at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm with tracert, I don't add family (or certain friends). I just ignore them. They never say anything to me in real life.
posted by All.star at 12:47 PM on February 14, 2009

I am "friends" with a lot of my family on facebook and my general deal with them is that

- I keep really private stuff private like TPS says
- I have family on a special list that has some restrictions, not many
- for parental type folks (anyone older than me who is likely to tut tut anything or be weird) I just say flat out that I use facebook for talking to friends and family but if they want to be judgey they are welcome to not be linked to me. This may not work for everyone, but I have sort of nosey parents/others and basically I've said "I can't stop you from snooping but I will refuse to discuss the results of your snoopage with you" There's a lot of utility for me in being linked to family -- I can play games with them and give them small updates without hourlong phone calls every week -- so I've tried to find a way to work the rest of it out.
posted by jessamyn at 12:52 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding use Friend lists. The article (from the blue) is here, and I used that article to adjust my privacy settings and whatnot on Facebook.

You can have your real profile, with whatever you want on there, and then you can have a friend list of people who will only be able to see a bare-bones profile (or however much information you'd like to show). Or, you can have multiple friend lists with varying degrees of privacy. (I especially like the part where people can't see photos that my friends have tagged me in. Not that there's anything *that* scandalous, but you know.) You won't have to deal with having multiple profiles, and you can still accept friends without having to have the "So why didn't you accept me?!?!?" conversation.

I actually think Facebook is a pretty fabulous way to keep in touch with family. Next weekend, a cousin who I haven't seen in over 10 years is coming to visit. I'd probably have otherwise never even had a conversation with her, unless it was some "oh, hey, how are you?" conversation at a family event. Now we talk quite a bit.
posted by AlisonM at 12:58 PM on February 14, 2009

If it's a big deal I'd say you should probably just not do it, or use a separate profile. If you do try, make excessive use of the feature that lets you see your own profile as somebody else, which is in the privacy settings somewhere. Even though you change all the settings in one place that seems clear, individual applications seem to do whatever they want unless you configure those too. For instance, photos are configured separately in an application as well as in the basic privacy settings, so even if you tell facebook not to show photos of you to certain people in one place, they may still be able to see them in some situations unless you manage the photo app too. Like if the photo is on somebody else's profile, and somebody tags you in it, maybe they can't see the photo by looking at your info but they can see the announcement about the tag which happens to also have the photo in it. Notice that Settings->Privacy Settings->Application Settings is not the same thing as Settings->Application Settings. Friends lists are not a perfect solution even though that one article seems to think so - some settings can only use whitelists, some can only use blacklists, some are not configurable with lists, etc. Plus, in between when you add a friend and put them on a blacklist, they can presumably see everything. So in short, my own experiences have been frustrating. :) I ended up saying that nobody can see photos or videos period, and having to manage lists of people who can see certain other things. Basically there are 5 million settings, it's really hard to say which ones take precedence over others, and they all default to the minimum possible privacy. I wouldn't even be on the stupid site except for peer pressure.
posted by Post-it Goat at 1:01 PM on February 14, 2009

You can have some people see a 'limited profile', I use this for some family members. I'm not hiding anything either but my teenage cousins in a small, very conservative town in the south probably don't need to know the details of my life as an artist living in San Francisco.

You can get really complicated by putting everyone on seperate lists and setting the privacy settings for each one but that seemed like too much hassle to me. I just keep my profile pretty barebones.
posted by bradbane at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2009

Definitely use your friend lists. Customize privacy settings for each and voila. I have three groups currently and each has their own settings.

Oh and another thing I've done is turn off privacy setting changes getting posted to my updates, so nobody ever knows when I make those changes.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:24 PM on February 14, 2009

The policy I have with my family is that I treat Facebook as a social utility for my friends, and so anything seen online is simply how I interact with my friends and therefore not really any of their business. That being said, however, I won't accept friend requests from family members who don't know anyone else on Facebook because then their sole reason for being online is to spy on me. The compromise is email for those who just want to check up on me so they can't virtually eavesdrop.
posted by big open mouth at 1:43 PM on February 14, 2009

Here's the article you need to read:


I have three groups, 1: Can see everything, 2: Can see something stuff, 3: Can see nothing. Solves all kinds of problems.
posted by crapples at 3:32 PM on February 14, 2009

They would be devastated by my language and (actually pretty tame) lifestyle. What can one do?

You could do like I do, and consider a social rather than technical solution: let it all hang out and if they don't like it, fuck 'em.

My Dad gave me some grief about the photos and "doing now" tags I was adding. "Wow Dad, you are acting like a grumpy old fuddy duddy. Can you remember a time when my behaviour didn't piss you off? What's new?" etc. etc.

Maybe that approach is too aggressive for you, but it works OK for me.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:58 PM on February 14, 2009

I am in the exact same situation. I went through Facebook's privacy settings and made different friends lists and all that crap but if you even allow them to see your basic profile info lets them see your groups which if you're like me include pretty obvious tells (example for me - The L Word). So I say make a seperate profile for family or just tell them no, like I do. I don't want my family up in my business anyway.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:41 PM on February 14, 2009

I just figure my older relatives don't use facebook often enough for it to be an issue. My grandmother recently joined facebook and I friended her- I think my older cousin had showed her that she can see pictures of me at college on it. Same with my parents- they like seeing pictures of me, and yesterday my dad called me to see how I was because my status said I was sick. I have a really close and open relationship with my family, though, so I don't worry about them judging me.
posted by MadamM at 5:02 PM on February 14, 2009

I tend to not filter much, if they don't like who I am they know where the exit is. Just as I routinely ignore proselytizing messages from relatives, they can routinely ignore parts of my profile they do not like.

That being said, I do keep Important People (tm) on a separate list. This includes professors, deans, and other people with significant bearing. Otherwise, too bad.
posted by mezamashii at 7:48 PM on February 14, 2009

Make sure when you're figuring out all the lists and stuff that you keep in mind the photos other people can tag of you. You can't prevent this from happening, but you can determine who can see it. That's my biggest worry--my Facebook profile is used for work, so it's perfectly clean, but you never know what photos people will post of you from college or other less, um, careful times in your life.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:26 PM on February 14, 2009

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