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Here on HN, over the years I've mentioned my "spouse firewall" for Facebook, which I considered to be the perfect level of involvement.

Well, about a month ago my spouse firewall very nearly failed entirely. The problem was that with her mature Facebook account, with dozens of "friends" with a ton of other "friends", the stream of continuous bad news just became too much. Partially that's particular to some relationships we have, but even ignoring those, it was still an unrelenting stream of people having surgery, complications, financial troubles, and then very bizarrely mixed in with cute puppy photos, and then mixed in with political shitfits, to say nothing of some other family's "drama", all mixed with a "healthy" helping of continuous ads.

As it turns out, my firewall "recovered", but usage has been toned way down, and a lot of people got themselves hidden.

It gets said on HN every so often, but MySpace and the previous social networks often collapsed virtually overnight. I still think there's a good chance Facebook could still go that way.

Edit: Sorry, my "spouse firewall" is that my wife is on Facebook and I have no account. I hear about the family gatherings and other such things announced only on Facebook that way, but don't have to have an account myself. So it's like a "firewall" filtering out only the most important stuff.




Happy to see I'm not alone. My wife is also the facebook person. I do have an account and all but I feel no need to use it. Every once in a while I'll log in when she tells me to go do something like like a post or respond to a message or something. I quickly get overwhelmed with the site, so much junk going on. I do not care for 99% of what is posted there and my wife tells me the 1% that matters.


> Every once in a while I'll log in when she tells me to go do something like like a post or respond to a message or something.

Have you noticed Facebook getting needy and messaging to remind you that "X posted a photo" and "Y updated their status" etc.?

I'm a pretty light Facebook user myself, and I've noticed that, after not using it for about a week, they transparently and ineptly try to lure me back with increasing numbers of messages reminding me that people I don't care about are posting lots of stuff.


I see this too. FB is pretty tight with letting you get data out of the system (RSS doesn't really work anymore, and external notifications force you to visit the site if you want to see the actual content).

They're stuck between being a platform and being an application.


yeah I get those, "You have 98 updates", ok great. It's probably a pain to try to turn that stuff down. The most interaction I have is with their SMS. I sometimes press 1 to wish people happy birthday.


Facebook has an old phone number and email of mine (like, I've changed countries twice since them). It has warned me every time I've been on the website in the last 2 years, but at least I don't get the "We've been missing you" emails. And it's up to them to cut the wire now.


I have two Facebook accounts. The one I stay logged on with uses a pseudonym; I'm not connected with anyone I know in real life, and I use it to participate in certain Facebook groups (as bad as it is, it's still probably one of the best places to look for active web groups).

The other is my old account. I've removed any photos, changed my last name, and check in using a private window (since I don't log out of my pseudonym account) about once a week to see if any friend's messaged me there. If they didn't, I close the private window and I'm out.


Basically the same for me. Changed my name to a pseudonym in 2009, hid all my photos, and deleted all my info. Now it's a glorified rolodex + lets me see pages for businesses & events that are Facebook-only for whatever reason. Spent a total of 4 years as active user, 6+ as inactive, and vastly prefer the latter.


That's why the best thing Fb put on the site is the ability to unfollow people (or quiet them down) without unfriending.

I started doing this with every crap post on my timeline, now I have (mostly) ok content. Yes, you can't escape the political crapposting, but since this usually originate in pages there's a helpful "Never show me content from page X again".

And I still get to use Fb to share relevant content with my friends and to use messenger.


Funnily enough, that's what I've got now that my account is deactivated. Some people I'd rather not talk to talk to me via my wife now.

Some of them are former colleagues - it's funny to see how often they hit your linkedIn account now that you aren't on FB for them to creep on!


I also used the "spouse firewall", and had a different firewall failure. Firewall failures can happen in two ways: letting things through that they shouldn't, and not letting things through that they should.

A few years ago, after the Sandy Hook shootings, my wife was very upset by all the news coverage (she is very empathetic, and the thought of children being harmed seriously bothers her). I told her that she should just ignore it all and focus on our family and more immediate concerns. After all, we were lucky enough that it didn't affect us, and worrying about it couldn't help. So, she focused on more local concerns, and felt much better.

I was shocked a month later when I was talking to a close friend and found out that one of the children killed at Sandy Hook was the child of an old friend of mine; someone I had not spoken to in years, but who I went to high school and college with, and who was DM of our gaming group senior year. FB had been the center of the outpouring of community support for my friend, and I felt very guilty for not being part of that. No one had even thought to tell me, because it was all over FB, after all. My friends all just assumed I knew.

It's always a hard problem to filter the important 0.1% from the unimportant 99.9%. I'm glad that my friend was able to get so much support from friends and community, and I think FB, for all its faults, helped in that.


I'm interested to hear what a "spouse firewall" is


If it's the same as mine, it means that I don't have a Facebook account, but my spouse tells me what's on Facebook that I need to know.


I have the same deal, I don't have a Facebook account but my girlfriend does and we share a lot of the same friends. I hear just enough information through her to still feel like I'm keeping up without having to actively browse the site.


I'd hesitate to blame Facebook because people in need use it to reach out to their community for support. If Facebook hate stems from rich healthy safe people being bothered by the presence of human suffering, Facebook is not the villain of the story.


I'm sorry to have to inform you that you've stepped in it. Part of the reason why we get such bad news, which I tried to politely dance around, is the support groups we're on for our children's special needs. (Yes. Plural.)

But, bizarrely, the real problem isn't those friends (she did basically ask for that, after all, and many of them are people we really know), it's the fact that by being so essentially random it gave my wife a lot of friends-of-friends, because the more serious special need is a genetic disease that results in an essentially random hodge-podge of all backgrounds and ethnicities. (The disease in question is generally a highly disadvantageous random mutation, and thus not tied to any particular ethnicity.)

Take your cheap moral preening somewhere else, please.


... what?

This is the life that happens to people - as you said either unfollow or use the firewall approach or dont use it at all. But how does that change what the parent said?


If your spouse wasn't on Facebook, would she not hear about the bad news, or would she hear about it from friends & family via phone calls and in person instead? Facebook might be more efficient, but people did communicate before it.


Good question; the bad news in question is mostly stuff that we don't really need to hear. You don't need to here that your acquaintance's acquaintance's father's colonoscopy revealed cancer... and I'm not really being particularly sarcastic about that example, we really were getting similar things.

We still hear about the relevant bad news, but even with my somewhat large family it's much less bad news.


I've never seen this "spouse firewall" concept ... can you provide a link to one of your previous comments?


I'm guessing he means that he doesn't use Facebook and lets his spouse (who is on Facebook) tell him about significant news about friends/family and filter out all the gibbrish. That's what I do anyways. :)


I believe it just means your spouse uses Facebook, and you second hand smoke it. If you are lucky your spouse at least statefully inspects the feed.


"Spouse firewall" might be better described as using your spouse as a Mentat to social media.


Firewall is more appropriate. A Mentat, in that sense, remembers things for you. Like whose birthday is coming up, which holiday party is Friday, etc.

A firewall just tells you, and you have to act on that information yourself or in concert with them, but not strictly at their direction. They're a filter (my youngest cousin's new relationship has no bearing on my partner's wellbeing or life, especially given my cousin's history; if it lasts a few months, then it'll be worth mentioning).


I too, have this set up. I wonder if this is pretty common?




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