16

I have a Facebook profile and use it to have fun and keep in touch with friends. I do my best to keep personal drama off of my Facebook page, be it mine or another person's drama, it doesn't belong on my front page.

However I have some family and a few "friends" that, for some reason, feel it is acceptable to talk about my drama on their pages. Many times it is talked about abstractly, but just as often I am tagged in their posts.

Removing these people from my friends just creates more drama with my family that thinks that it is their right to be my friend on Facebook.

How can I best communicate that I do not want people sharing any of my information, or posting about problems I am having? If I want the topics out on Facebook I will put them out there myself or ask someone to help.

  • 1
    Have you already tried to talk with them and they're refusing to comply? – Catija Jul 5 '17 at 19:21
  • @Catija what i have done in the past has not been effective. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Jul 5 '17 at 19:26
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    So you think that it's not valuable to tell people attempting to help you about what you've already tried? If you don't tell us what you've done before, you're likely going to get answers that aren't very helpful. – Catija Jul 5 '17 at 19:50
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    @Chad please do not get defensive. Catija is trying to extract more information on what you've done and does not work - if we post an answer that doesn't work, it is useless to you, too. – Vylix Jul 5 '17 at 20:54
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    If you have to refer to your "friends" with quotes, you should have already cut them out of your life. – Matthew Read Sep 12 '17 at 22:28
8

You can call attentions to the truth: This is hurting you.

Your options are somewhat limited because we are talking about instinctive human nature. People have been talking behind each other's backs since Man learned how to talk and to walk far enough to be outside of hearing range of someone else. Certain parts of these conversations about you will be incorrect or hurtful. And there is little that can be done to stop or control it. Facebook and other media are an extension of that (along with the other awesome aspects about them -- to be fair).

So what can be done about these hurtful things on Facebook?

What you could do:

  • Every time they do this, send them a polite but firm email stating that their comment was hurtful to you. And state that, if they care at all about you, then they will stop. Serial number the emails so they have a clear idea about how often they are hurting and have been hurting you.
  • (Optional) On your Facebook, simply make a statement that on so-and-so date, this person posted a comment about you that you found hurtful, and they knew that it would have this effect on you. (If you consider this too aggressive or negative, simply stick with the emails.)

What you should not do:

  • Retaliate in kind. This reduces you to their level.
  • Silently take it (after a perfunctory criticism). This gives them somewhat of a tacit approval to proceed.
  • "Removing these people from my friends" (as you stated), or talking behind their backs about this would probably turn you into "the hostile one".
  • 2
    I find the "what you should not do" list very helpful in this case. OP option is strictly limited since the only way he can actually do after his plea fall to the deaf ears is unfriending them to let them know you take this very seriously. – Vylix Jul 6 '17 at 15:17
  • I do not think this will help. Have you ever heard of the phrase "Do not feed the trolls"? – tuskiomi Aug 10 '17 at 13:59
7

You fundamentally can't force people not to speak. Or, rather you can, but you very rapidly move toward ethical and legal problems. What you can do is take away some of the energy that encourages them to speak. By putting distance between yourself and the gossip, you reduce the energy and freneticity of the topic, and people move on to something else. When people gossip about you, it's like being the subject of a news story. The less you give back to the story, the less interesting it is, and the quicker those who thrive on being the center of attention will turn their attentions elsewhere.

While I very much like John's answer for some if its direct communication, I have some suggestions to follow along-side--not in replacement of--John's suggestions. The first two steps are fairly passive, and not likely to escalate existing tensions; they're designed to retain relationships by reducing amplifying feedback. The third step involves asserting positive, reasonable authority over your own little corner of Facebook, and the final step involves out-right removal of them from your online life, to the extent that that's possible:

The first step is to lock down your Facebook profile. To the extent you have any passive control over what people say about you on Facebook, that control is available via your privacy settings. Disallow people from tagging you. Disallow people from writing on your wall. This reduces an agitator's ability to push their message at you in a public way that's likely to get amplified by comments and such.

Second, unfollow agitators. Facebook doesn't show everybody everything happening about all of their friends. It tries to maximize interaction by looking for people who interact a lot when presented with each others' posts and comments. You can hide (most of) agitators' posts and activity by unfollowing them. This is distinct from unfriending; you can still see each others' content, but you won't see theirs unless they post somewhere else you were already looking, or unless you visit their profile. By not being presented with their messages, you're less likely to interact with their material, and so Facebook is less likely to show them yours.

Third, you can lay down rules for your Facebook wall. It's your private space, and it's under your control. If they engage in these behaviors on your wall, you can ask them politely not to. I wouldn't expect immediate compliance, but I wouldn't respond to any immediate retort of theirs; that way only lies escalation, which is the opposite of what we want. If they do it again later, remind them. If they refuse to follow your rules, and you've given them a couple explicit opportunities and some time to let those opportunities to sink in, it's time for the next step. (It's important not to rush, as rapid progression from "whatever" to "goodbye" gives the impression of being irrational and unreasonable to those aware of the event. No matter how unfair those assessments are, they still make social interactions awkward.)

Fourth is simple unfriending. Given how promiscuous we tend to be about friending people on Facebook, unfriending tells them they're not even worth your passive, occasional attention, and you really don't care about them online. It's going to sting them, but that's not the reason we do it. We do it because it prevents them from being able to be jerks on your Wall, after they overtly insisted on being jerks, or were insistently obtuse and un-self-aware about their being jerks.

Remember, step four is going to sting them. Expect some fallout from that. If you can, try to go a week before taking any further action; hopefully any upheaval in your social circles will have cooled some in the interim.

If they still insist on being jerks on Facebook, there's not much you can do to prevent it. But you can limit how much you let it stress you out: You can block them. Blocking them prevents them from being able to see your posts, and prevents you from seeing theirs, including their comments.

Hopefully, you don't have to get all the way down here. Time and ignoring gossip can go a long way to making yourself uninteresting to them, and finding ways to hide their activities can help reduce your stress levels.

Again:

Step 1, make it harder for people to draw you and your other contacts into their gossip.

Step 2, pay no attention to the gossipers, and Facebook will tend to naturally draw them away from you.

Step 3, if the gossipers are deliberately bringing their trash to you, you can positively assert authority over your personal space, but you need to be perceived as calm and reasonable about it to reduce the blowback.

Step 4, if the gossipers truly won't take "leave it alone" for an answer, all you can do is block them.

  • 2
    The problem with this and many of the other answers is that it seems irrelevant that the OP can see the content... blocking people from tagging you is great but that doesn't prevent them from talking about you. At least when you're friends with them you can see what they're sharing. If you close yourself in, you can only get the information second hand. – Catija Jul 6 '17 at 20:03
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    You fundamentally can't force people not to speak. Or, rather you can, but you very rapidly move toward ethical and legal problems. What you can do is take away some of the energy that encourages them to speak. By putting distance between yourself and the gossip, your reduce the energy and freneticity of the topic, and people move on to something else. When people gossip about you, it's like being the subject of a news story. The less you give back to the story, the less interesting it is, and the quicker those who thrive on being the center of attention will turn their attentions elsewhere. – Michael Mol Jul 6 '17 at 20:07
  • My answer is also not a substitute for direct communication, hence the explicit statement at the top referencing John's answer. – Michael Mol Jul 6 '17 at 20:08
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    I think that if you're recommending direct communication first you should specifically note what about John's answer you support (direct communication). This makes it less necessary for users to go and look at the other answer to see what you're agreeing with, which makes your answer more clear. – Catija Jul 6 '17 at 20:11
  • Link added. But please read my answer literally; I call out along side. The actions are ones to be performed concurrently. If the agitator already insists on gossiping, you've lost most of the value of step 2, and need to be looking at 4. After that, we look at taking away the agitator's power by running our own communications channel where we can keep details light, but sufficient that the agitator loses their sexy, exclusive story. If that's not an option, and if the private information is sufficiently dear, we have to look at cutting the toxic agitators out of our lives entirely. – Michael Mol Jul 6 '17 at 20:25
2

This is a pretty common problem with social media. People often don't really realize that it's not an appropriate place to have private or delicate conversations...

More often than not, people who make these mistakes don't mean any harm, they just don't know any better. Their intent is usually to show their concern, sympathy, or condolences they just didn't think about the online implications. It's a bit like the difference between pulling someone aside for a private moment and saying the same thing through a microphone in a crowded room.

Usually the easiest way to handle these situations is to make that difference clear to people. Sort of a:

"I appreciate that you care about my situation, but when you put it on social media, you're inadvertently making an announcement to the whole world. Some things are better expressed in private, shoot me an email or private chat message next time."

This sort of approach tends to be pretty well received, because it isn't a flat out admonishment like a "mind your own business" and it offers a good alternative.

  • It's worth noting that the original purpose of Facebook was to allow college men to rate college women on looks. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." – Tom Au Jul 6 '17 at 20:23
1

Your family has no 'privileged access' to your social media.

Social media is not something that anyone has a rightful access to, and regardless of what others say, your information is private.

If I were you, I would simply block offending users silently until they move on. Often times the best solution to drama is Don't feed it.

If this escalates, there is always a way to block them on other social media, and keep them out of your life. If they see no reaction, they'll move on.

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    I don't see how this is a solution. If they're interacting with Chad in real life or talking with people who are, and then blabbering all over FB about it, how does Chad not being able to see the posts fix anything? – Catija Jul 5 '17 at 19:44
  • @Catija not reacting to things fixes them quite well. For example, the UK's suppression of terrorist-related media has made public panic lower substantially. – tuskiomi Jul 5 '17 at 19:51
  • Unfriending on Facebook has a connotation with in my family and friends. While I personally do not disagree with your assessment Unfriending family and close friends has repercussions I do not want to deal with. which is why I mentioned this was not an option in the question. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Jul 5 '17 at 19:51
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    Not reacting to rumors doesn't make the rumor mill stop. – Catija Jul 5 '17 at 19:52
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    Facebook already is elsewhere. You blocking them or unfriending them doesn't prevent your other friends and family from seeing them blabber about it. – Catija Jul 5 '17 at 19:59

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