Facebook wants me to share everthing, but...
May 16, 2012 11:02 AM   Subscribe

FacebookPrivacyFilter: I'm out to increasingly larger circles of friends and work colleagues, but am not out to my extended family. What steps can I take on Facebook to delay the inevitable without causing drama?

I'm transgender and am (slowly) transitioning. I'm at an awkward "full time except for work and church" stage. My mother has expressed her reservations that she's not ready to have me come out to my extended family, yet. I'm a touch ambivalent about that (it's my decision to make, not hers), but I want to be as respectful as I can of my mom's desires.

I've created a list of friends on Facebook and all of my recent pictures (as well as trans-related posts) are restricted to that group. Under "tagging", I have activated "Review posts friends tag you in" and "Review tags friends add to your own posts".

I'll be attending a conference (with my family) in June, and will be out to an awful lot of people in that context. My wife and I interact with many conference attendees on Facebook (we're using Facebook to organize several side events).

Philosophically, I'm at peace with the notion that a blip in Facebook's privacy settings could inadvertently out me to the world, including my extended family. I realize that the only way to be safe from being inadvertently outed via Facebook is to avoid using Facebook, but that's not really a step I want to take. Likewise, since I am already interacting with many conference attendees from my existing Facebook account, creating a "fresh" account isn't really an option, either.

Are there any other steps I should be taking to support me coming out to my extended family on my own schedule?
posted by TranSubstantial to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, I think you have three options:

1) Don't use Facebook at all.
2) Have two entirely separate Facebook accounts, one for people you're out to and one for people you're not out to.
3) Come out to everybody.

Otherwise, something, somehow, somewhere will slip through, and you will inadvertently out yourself to someone you didn't mean to. There are just so many ways some hint of something reach somebody.
posted by lewedswiver at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Think about your in-the-dark relatives - how "swift" are they? If they see a lone incriminating comment or pic in-passing, how likely are they to assume its truth? If they ask, say someone was just having fun at your expense, or you were dressing up that way for a laugh. Unless the idea's persistently reinforced or they're outright told it's the truth, they probably won't be inclined to believe it.

If a slip-up is going to be so catastrophic, unfriend them. They won't likely notice for a while unless they go looking for you. If they do, apologize and say your FB has been acting very weird lately and you'll try to get it fixed.
posted by lizbunny at 11:44 AM on May 16, 2012

This is another one of those reasons that I refuse to have a social media existence (except for metafilter, because how would I live with out it)...it eliminates your privacy.

I have no Facebook expertise, however, I stopped by to offer the following...Since you indicated that you do not want to stop using Facebook, I think you need to accept the idea that you are going to have to start slowly coming out to your extended family and friends. You seem to be okay with this; your real concern is seemingly your mom. Thus, I think it is time to sit her down and have a conversation. Let her know that you are trying to be respectful but that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep this secret. Ultimately, your happiness and well-being are at stake.
posted by AlliKat75 at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you perhaps at some level seeing an accidental Facebook outing as a way to get around your mother's discomfort with you coming out to extended family?

Honestly, I would really sympathize if you were, but I think it might be healthier to talk to your mother - sooner rather than later - and explain something of the burden of maintaining so many different identities for different contexts, the potential for slip-ups, and whether the information will go over better if it's accidentally revealed versus purposefully shared.

In your mother's head, I suspect she's thinking it's just a matter of not talking about your transition with your extended family. If she understood the sort of precautions and firewalls necessary - will you ask all your friends at the conference to whom you're out not to say anything to family? How confident are you that no one will slip up? - she might be more understanding.

And then, you should come out on your own schedule. Because it is your decision.
posted by psycheslamp at 12:21 PM on May 16, 2012

You can put extended family on extreme lockdown limited profile (tick everything you can basically), which should go pretty far - you can stop people from seeing photos, your wall, etc etc. You can avoid posting a profile picture of yourself (or at all) if that makes it obvious.

I already do the lockdown part and I don't even have a reason beyond privacy.

But it is good to remember that facebook can change those settings at any time without warning (grr...).
posted by randomnity at 12:25 PM on May 16, 2012

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