Nicest way to remove extended family from Facebook?
July 18, 2013 2:20 PM   Subscribe

I would like to remove my extended family from social media to make my life simpler and happier. I know that removing them isn’t super “nice” in the first place, but I’m not sure what the best option is.

Short Background: I don’t speak to my mother and haven’t for 6 or 7 ish years. I don’t really consider her my “mother.” I block her from everything I possibly can. She has three sisters – my Aunts – who still try to be part of my life. The problem is really twofold.

Problem 1: I know they tell my “mother” things about me. I don’t want that. I know some of them talk to her more than others. I know even if I ask them not to, they won’t respect my request.

Problem 2: We aren’t close and don’t get along. I can somewhat get along with one of them, but others are extremely hard to deal with. They also try to act close and nudge into my life, without actually being close or doing anything to show me they are close. It really is just about prying into my life.

Note: I already block them from about 98% of my updates on Facebook. Just blocking their feeds isn’t really an option to me. I have already thought about it in depth and would like them removed from social media completely. In the past they weren’t on my social media and all was well, until I got older and they added me. It was a huge mistake for me to accept their requests.

Option 1: Remove them all, and say nothing about it to them. This would mean no messages or anything.

Option 2: Remove them all but message them (some of them?) that they can contact me other ways. I don’t want to give them my email address, however anyone on FB can message me and my website has a contact form.

If I do say something, I’m not quite sure what to say. I’m also not sure if I should say anything at all. If your niece removed you from Facebook, would you want them to say something? Would you say something to your aunts if you removed them?

Also removing my great aunt, who is sweet but I don’t think she knows the situation and therefore is probably online friends with “mother.” I will also remove my cousin, who I will not be messaging with anything as he is pretty creepy and I don’t really want him contacting me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Defriend them with no messages.

It causes no drama.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:23 PM on July 18, 2013 [24 favorites]

You're overthinking this.

Just remove them. Don't say anything to them about it. If they message you through fb, you can ignore it.
posted by rtha at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

I have removed several of my extended family members from Facebook just by quietly unfriending them and moving on with my life. No muss, no drama. (The one creepy person who kept sending me friend requests and messages got blocked, also with no comment and no drama.)
posted by sarcasticah at 2:28 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

You have my permission to unfriend them.

Keep in touch with the sweet great aunt if you like, off social media. You know, send her a "hi, how are you, I am fine" email every now and then.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:28 PM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Block them. They won't notice. Catch up with them at the next family reunion. If you block them, and want to know how they are doing, call them and ask them how they're doing. If you don't want to call them, but you still want to know how they are doing, call someone that calls them to ask them how they're doing and ask them how they are doing.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2013

One possible alternative - you could create a list of all your relatives that you don't want to have access to your activity, and limit the audience for all of your posts, and all of the posts that others make on your wall, so that they can't see anything. This isn't very difficult to do, and it's effective (I have multiple lists - e.g. a group when I don't want family or anyone connected with family to see, a group when I don't want known-inflammatory-comment makers to see, etc).
posted by sevensnowflakes at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Seconding that they won't notice. If you've had them blocked, they don't see any updates anyway - they probably think you aren't a big user, or that you've pretty much abandoned your FB.
posted by peep at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Block all of them and say nothing. If it comes up, tell them you pruned your social media friends list way back recently for professional reasons. The end.
posted by something something at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Depends on what your objective is.

It's certainly possible to make what they can see the exact same as if they weren't your friend at all, through the privacy settings, as well as block them from posting on your wall, and show offline on chat to them.

If you are removing them, yeah, don't say anything (except, perhaps, to the great aunt.)
posted by Ashlyth at 2:47 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I actually had a friend with a stalker who just deleted her FB and then rejoined a month later with a fake last name, and re-added all her old friends. Is this extreme? Yes, and maybe it's TOO extreme for your situation, especially if you'd rather not lose old tagged photos and such. But it's an option.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:48 PM on July 18, 2013

I don't know why people get the idea that they won't notice. They will totally notice. That's OK, though.
posted by grouse at 2:58 PM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Of course they'll notice. Send a group fb message to the relatives saying you're changing your fb to be professional rather than personal & you're sure they'll understand & you wiish them well. Then delete them & make your profile private.
posted by headnsouth at 3:17 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

You do not owe them an explanation. Un-friend and move on. Even better option to avoid drama, get rid of Facebook entirely. You still have the "old-fashioned" options of telephones, emails, etc.

But I would advise against it, due to, "I know even if I ask them not to, they won’t respect my request." If you do not want that woman in your life, keeping her sisters involved sounds like a bad idea. They do not respect your needs. Take care of yourself, and cut all contact.
posted by jraenar at 3:18 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a very very similar problem, though not as severe, and I've pondered the solutions offered so far. In my case I prefer to keep the relatives as friends but try to corral the problematic one, who I keep 'restricted' but friends (for me the fallout of defriending is not an option).

The real problem, that FB won't let us around (and this is true even if you quit and re-join with a different name!) is that blasted useless &%^R%&%$&*# ticker. You cannot prevent, say, your mother from seeing when your aunt 'likes' your post, because that action (your aunt's liking action) appears in your mother's ticker. Then your mother can hover over it in her own ticker, and see what your aunt 'liked', and in that sense -- see what you posted, no matter your own relationship with her.

The only way around this is, I think?, if your aunt (and each of your friends, individually) changed the settings of your individual friendship. Which isn't gonna happen, for all of my 398 friends, so I haven't tried to manage it.

Unless I'm misunderstanding this (please enlighten me, and I apologize if I've hijacked the OP) -- this is why FB has become a wasteland for me, because I can't manage it. So I just end up not posting anything personal, which is ... well, not the point.
posted by Dashy at 3:18 PM on July 18, 2013

Dashy, that's not how it works. If you set something so that your mom can't view it, she won't be able to view it just because one of her friends "Likes" it. You may have received the wrong impression from incorrect notes people that people pass around Facebook.
posted by grouse at 3:30 PM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

You have a couple options here: one is to just keep on as you have --- but you've already found that annoying, right?

Next is, as several other folks have mentioned, blocking them: block your mother, her sisters, and anyone else who's earned it.

Third choice is deleting them from your fb friends list entirely; the problem here, as you know, is if any of them notice --- and once one does, they'll ALL know. (They'd never notice if you merely block them, but then they'd still have full access to your own page.)

Fourth option is a little more work: start a whole new facebook page. Don't delete the old page, don't delete anybody FROM the old page: just open a new one, with either a fake name or misspelled variant of your name. Email --- not fb message --- word about the new page to only the select few people you can totally 100% trust to never EVER leak even the mere EXISTANCE of the new page to your mother, your aunts, or anybody who might pass the info on to them. Keep the old page active by posting something innocuous once in a while, and be very selective about accepting anyone as a friend on the new page. Lock down access to friends only, and if your mother or aunts ever DO find out about it and send a friend request? Ignore them.
posted by easily confused at 4:54 PM on July 18, 2013

Block them. Go to their page on FB, hover over your "relationship" with them (this has moved to the top, in the cover photo area). Click on report/Block.

Block them.

HEY PRESTO. No one exists on FB anymore! Well, they don't to you and you don't to them.

If they ask tell them you deleted your FB profile.

You don't owe them anything.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:12 PM on July 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

If my niece removed me from her friend list on FB, assuming I even noticed, I would be momentarily sad. That would be immediately eclipsed by my assumption that she was probably trying to keep friends and family in completely discrete circles. You know, like I was able to when there was no FB. My desire for my niece to have her privacy to say whatever she wants to her friends without having to worry about it getting misinterpreted by family would trump any desire I might have to be involved in her life. Plus, there's always Christmas, and email, and the phone.

If you are an adult, then your aunts are old enough to remember BFB (before facebook). Defriending should not strike them as odd, and it was out of line for them to request friend status in the first place, given the relationship you have with them and your mother.

A slightly distant relative who is reasonable will not be upset about being defriended. Your aunts sound unreasonable, but that's on them. You shouldn't live your life accounting for others' bad behavior.
posted by tllaya at 3:21 AM on July 19, 2013

Missed the edit window. To clarify: Defriend and don't tell them you did so. You don't owe them "nice" and they will leverage it against you.
posted by tllaya at 3:28 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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