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This is a delicate matter because we recently reconnected after over 20 years. It turns out that he is a die-hard supporter of a political figure that I dislike. I'm an adult. I can deal with someone disagreeing with a particular policy or where our tax dollars are going or on any number of other issues, but changing the facts to support your position is called lying.

There was no Facebook the last time I spoke with my family, do I have no experience communicating with a family member online and on a public stage. Nevertheless, he lives on the other side of the country and so this is his first opportunity to "see" me and what I've become.

He kicked me out of the house the day he suspected I was gay and so to avoid making him feel uncomfortable, I created a separate Facebook page, just for him and other family members.

It turns out that I'm the uncomfortable one. The pictures and messages he posts are just blatantly untrue.

Honestly, it's gotten to the point where I don't want to look at his Facebook page at all and so my new step mom, who I really like and who really wants to get to know me, isn't getting any responses from me when she tags me and so on.

How do I respond to these Facebook posts, without appearing to be a know it all, without appearing argumentative and without offending him?

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    What is your goal? To stop him from posting them? To change his mind? To provide a counter-argument to anyone else who might be reading the posts? To feel better because you've spoken up? You need to think carefully about this because your approach might differ quite strongly depending on which one(s) apply. – user2390246 Dec 16 '17 at 21:34
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    "What is the appropriate way to talk about this?" Is way too broad. We'll need you to narrow this down to a specific goal, like how to voice your disagreement while maintaining a healthy relationship, or simply asking him not share things with you directly that are hurtful to you personally. I have to admit I find this very relatable, I hope it can be narrowed down. – apaul Dec 16 '17 at 21:38
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    But those other questions state a goal - that's the decisive difference. As long as we don't know, what you want to achieve with your response to your dad's fb posts, we can't help you. Only you can find that out, not strangers on the Internet who know neither you nor your dad (except from the information provided by your question). Find that out for yourself, then we can help you with how to achieve it. – Anne Daunted Dec 17 '17 at 12:01
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    You still need to update the body of your question, where it still reads "How do I respond to these Facebook posts, without appearing to be a know it all, without appearing argumentative and without offending him?" and also clarify what you hope to achieve by rebutting your dad's posts - make him stop posting, change his mind, just vent your frustration etc.? Else people may suspect it to be an XY problem. – Anne Daunted Dec 17 '17 at 12:21
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There is no appropriate way for you and your estranged father to discuss this on Facebook. Posting links to rebuttals, Snopes etc will only cause him to dig in his heels and damage your nascent relationship. The fact it's in front of his online friends makes it even worse.

You have a few off-FB options. You first have to decide whether you want him to stop believing this stuff, or just stop sharing this stuff on FB. The latter is easier, yet you can see that after decades of "being himself" and "posting stuff he likes" being told that you don't like to see it is unlikely to go over well. You could tell him that due to the volume of FB posts, you only look at things you're tagged in, then change your follow settings so that at least for things he posts, it's true. That would save you seeing posts that upset you while not requiring him to change anything about himself at the moment.

If you want to convert him, you do need to understand the "heel digging" aspect of this: giving people facts that prove their beliefs are wrong just leads to rejecting the facts and holding the beliefs more strongly. "That's what the MSM wants you to believe" and so on. So instead you need to meet him where he is. What is he afraid of? What does he long for? What are the carrot and the stick in his life that lead to the gleeful sharing of these memes? What jolt of dopamine does he get from them that overrides their truth or falseness? Over time, when you see where he's coming from, you may uncover things you have in common such as worrying about the future, or wanting there to be good-paying jobs where you live. From that common ground you can slowly move forward.

Over the years, maybe you will move right, or he will move left. Maybe he'll be as rabidly right-wing as ever but not so much on the conspiracy-theory posting-memes end of things, just on the "personal rights and freedom," "don't make me subsidize other people" tack. You may be able to have conversations where you point out some aspects of his favoured policies force you to subsidize corporations and very rich people (eg paying taxes to have roads and airports built while the 1% pay less dollars in tax than you and drive and fly more.)

Or you may just decide that discussing politics isn't worth it. You don't discuss cookie recipes with everyone you know, or the National Hockey League, or quilting. I would start by finding something you like to talk with him about, and ignore (with technological help if need be) the things you don't like to discuss, at least at first.

  • This is a very compelling answer; is there a name for the overarching techniques used? – user10743 Apr 16 '18 at 17:43
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I can relate to your situation a lot more than I'd like to. I never came out to my Dad, but when he was still alive we would go years without speaking to each other largely due to differences in world view and politics. We just couldn't speak to each other without one of us offending the other.

I never came out to my dad because he made his views on that subject clear, at great length, over and over again throughout my growing up years. Queer people were at best a punchline for him, just like everyone else who wasn't straight, white, and male...

Due to our inability to look past our politics and social issues we were never able to get to know about the people underneath those things. He never got to see me being the hard working husband and father that he always wanted me to be. I never got to see him as the man who literally walked into burning buildings to save lives.

It wasn't until he died and I was sorting through his stuff that I really got to see him as a whole person, rather than as the hateful, deeply flawed, bigot that I always fought with. Don't get me wrong, he was hateful and he was deeply flawed, but he was more than that.

I guess I would suggest that you look beyond his politics and social issues to the person he is underneath those hateful and deeply flawed beliefs. Try not to focus on the flaws and get to know the whole person, there's a good chance that you'll find some redeeming qualities buried in there. Rather than arguing about politics take the time to get to know him while you're both still alive.

I know how hard it is to look past the flaws... I couldn't do it till he died, but looking back I wish I had.

It may make it a little easier to sidestep the social media noise. Talk to each other on the phone, or through direct one on one messaging. He may say some horrible things on social media, but you might find that when you're just talking to each other, those things aren't primary topics of conversation.

Then again... I had a hard time avoiding hot button issues with my dad because those were the things we were both passionate about. In a way I guess that was my inheritance. The one thing we really had in common was our level of passion for the causes that mattered to us, we just landed on opposing sides of the issues. I still wish we could have found a way around that stuff and talked about work, life, and family instead.

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  1. Do you have to respond to him at all? Consider just letting him put his lies and misinformation on Facebook and ignore it. He's been doing it since before you reconnected with him and you won't change it. Maybe even unfollow him (there are ways in Facebook to exclude someone from your feed without them see you unfriend them). Your new stepmom will still see your posts and assuming she has her own account and isn't just posting from his, you'll still see her posts, too.

    I feel that harmony between you won't be achieved if you (either of you) persist in trying to change the other's mind, it's going to be much more effective just to accept/ignore and leave that topic unspoken as much as you can.

  2. To me Facebook is for interacting with a wider group of friends rather than just your close family. There may be other arenas you could use for that like a Whatsapp group, a Viber group, maybe even a Facebook group that you guys can communicate on. Then that can be separate from your main Facebook feeds which are for your wider group of friends, but more importantly, when he wants to spout off his political views he will probably keep those on Facebook, so that will be separate to any family-based conversation he has with you.

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I got the same problem with pretty much all of my family.

Little backstory (can be skipped):

Sometimes it hurts how dumb and naive they can be. Posting some right-wing propaganda stuff (living in Austria) and believing every last bit that is on facebook and the internet in general...

My solution:

However my solution for myself at least is that i search for the "news" and show them that they are fake by posting a link of a site that reveals that the news are fake.

Since then the postings got less, and they don't seem to be rude to me at all, i guess they realized that their past postings were just.. naive.

Maybe that helps, gl

  • This study seems to contradict your intuition on this issue: fivethirtyeight.com/features/… – user10743 Apr 16 '18 at 18:14
  • Not only that, I feel embarrassed for them. What they are saying illustrates a lack of understanding very basic scientific theories... like the definition of "theory." Someone tried to rebut something I posted about how we have come so far in our understanding of the Universe by stating that we "think" we know so much, but all we really have are these "theories." God provides the answers. – rbsdca May 1 '18 at 10:10
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Hear me out on this one:

Deactivate your Facebook profile. It's bad for both of you.

Think about it: This is the ultimate rebuttal to his actions. The platform is enabling his actions, and so the most you can effectively do is weaken that platform's hold on his attention.

Inform him and anyone else you wish to stay in touch with that you will no longer be using Facebook and they are free to contact you using other means (email, phone, etc.).


By leaving, you show that you don't value their behavior enough to even be around it. A key reason most people stick to facebook is to "stay in touch" with friends and family, so you use the only leverage you really have there: your time & presence. Think of this like leaving the table at a family gathering.

Being forced to actively engage in communication this way (as opposed to the passive method Facebook enables) will actually strengthen your relationship:

Generally speaking, indirect opposition is corrosive to relationships.


A number of studies suggest that Facebook can be used to strengthen and reinforce distant social connections, while others indicate that the website inflates the number of one's actual friends and discourages real interaction. One theme emerging from several studies is that direct actions with Facebook friends appear to increase individual feelings of connectedness and self-esteem, while indirect actions may do the opposite.

The less time he exposes himself to the feedback-loop of Facebook's feed the more open they will be open & looking to other avenues of news and thought, and you can try establish a direct role in that process.

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    How does this rebut the OP's father's posts? Can you explain how leaving the platform rebuts an untrue post? – sphennings Apr 16 '18 at 18:43
  • @sphennings it shows that you don't value the argument enough to even hear it. – user10743 Apr 16 '18 at 21:13
  • Can you edit your question to to include that explanation, and perhaps flesh it out a bit? – sphennings Apr 16 '18 at 21:16
  • @sphennings I've added a bit more to the answer (BTW, neat trick with the direct edit link!) – user10743 Apr 17 '18 at 0:07
  • Bonus points: Delete your Stack Exchange accounts as well! – user10743 Sep 29 '18 at 17:50
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You may not be able respond to your father's Facebook posts, without appearing to be a know it all, without appearing argumentative and without offending him.

I come from a...diverse...family. As a result we have a "no politics, no religion" rule when we communicate. It's the only way to remember we love each other.

For Facebook posts what I have done in your situation for brief periods of time is the following:

  • Unfollow your father but remain FB friends. He will not be alerted to this. You will still get notifications when you are tagged in photos. Just click on the "you are tagged" link and you will see the photos without having to see your father's page.
  • You don't have to have a different page for your father. Put your father on the "Restricted" friends list. Then he will only see posts of yours that are "Public". Post your personal items with the "Friends" privacy level. Your father won't see them. He will not be alerted to this either.

Good luck.

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    This post would be greatly improved by providing arguments supporting your claim that the OP cannot respond to their father's posts without appearing to be a know it all, being argumentative, or offending him. – sphennings Apr 16 '18 at 19:01
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    I like this approach. It has become difficult to maintain two separate accounts, on which I've noticed that I post nearly identical content. Another advantage to adding him to a restricted friends list is that he won't see my comments about my childhood in general, but the problem with that is that the other people on my friends list don't know that. Also, I am often needing to vent about him specifically. Note that his actions amounted to child abuse, by anyone's definition, back then or today. I don't keep that a secret. I have forgive. I will not pretend it didn't happen. – rbsdca May 1 '18 at 10:04
  • @sphennings I did not say he cannot, I said he may not. – empty May 1 '18 at 13:54
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I deal with a lot of politics in my family. I recently got into a pretty heated discussion with my Dad, but we both made it out with our relationship intact. Here are some tips to help you get through this.

First off, your both adults. You are both entitled to your own opinions, even if that means they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. A book I read a long time ago helps deal with this, its called: How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. One of the topics covered in the book is how to win people over to your way of thinking.

You need to find his factually incorrect posts and correct them. Confront him about them and present your case. Don't yell, try not to get angry. Try to tell him in a mild pleasant demeanor. Be persuasive and help him see your side of the picture. His response will be to dig in his heels and refuse to accept it, but you need to avoid any conflict.

The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. Whenever you argue with someone, no matter if you win or lose the argument, you still lose. Your Dad will either feel humiliated or strengthened and will only seek to bolster his own position. Try to avoid arguments whenever you can. An honest discussion is very different from an argument. Arguments usually involve yelling and "your wrong, I'm right" attitudes. The objective is to help him see your side of the picture.

Show respect for your Dads opinions. Never say "You're wrong." Never tell your Dad he is flat out wrong. It will only serve to offend him and insult his pride. No one likes to be humiliated. Start the conversation with something like: "Hey Dad, I saw your post about [FB Post] and I don't think thats right. Can you show me some sources to prove this? Because what I've got right here says [FB Post correction]."

Try honestly to see things from your Dads point of view. Other people may often be wrong, but you cannot condemn them. You must seek to understand them. Success in dealing with your Dad requires a sympathetic grasp of his viewpoint. You can't argue against something you don't understand. What caused him to think like this? Did he have any influential people is his life?

And finally, be willing to accept the fact that you might actually be wrong. Your Dad has been alive longer than you and he knows his stuff. Unless you have evidence showing otherwise, you might just be getting annoyed at him because you don't like the way he thinks. Most people aren't aware of the opinions of people around them. Your Dad might not know that you don't like the kinds of things that he posts on FB. Unless you verbally announce to him that his posts are hurting your feelings, then he isn't aware of it. He can't read minds.

You are both human. You have differing opinions and they are causing conflict. It happens more often than not. Just work through this. The relationship won't rebuild itself. You have to put in what you want to get out. If you want love, respect, and recognition, you have to put in love, respect, and recognition.

Alternatively, you could just unfriend him, get rid of FaceBook, and never talk to him again. I wouldn't recommend this though.

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