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.
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.
They're stuck between being a platform and being an application.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
We still hear about the relevant bad news, but even with my somewhat large family it's much less bad news.
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).