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Facebook Needs to Add Family Accounts

There are a lot of things, apparently, that Facebook must do if they don’t want to lose all their users to other social media sites, so if they’re keeping a list, I’d like to add one more: family accounts.

family_accounts

Facebook has personal accounts and public pages, but there are no family accounts.  A family can start a secret group and invite people to join, but that’s about it.  Because there is no other outlet on the site, parents share pictures and news about their kids on their personal page, subjecting everyone in their friends list to a blow-by-blow of the t-ball game or ballet recital unless they share those sorts of posts to a select group of friends.

Family pages would fix three problems with one tweak.

I think the obvious one in this community is that Facebook tends to be a painful space for those building their family.  When you just got another negative beta, it’s hard to go online and be bombarded with pictures of babies.  Family pages would pull all those updates and photos off the personal pages, so you could be friends with someone and choose whether or not you also subscribe to their family page.

Also, many people don’t friend someone because they want to know about their kid.  They friend someone because they want updates about the person they’re following.  But directly in conflict with that is that many people state that they use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends from afar, updating them with news about the family.  People could use their personal accounts for their own news, while sharing family news on the family page.  That way, their co-workers and old high school friends won’t have to read family news unless they also friend the separate family account.  Personal pages could go back to being about the person.

Or, really, some people won’t need a personal page at all.  If all they want to do is post family news, they could just have a family account.

The last problem that could be fixed is that children enter Facebook without training wheels.  They go from the offline world to the Facebook world without any instruction on how to comport themselves online.  Children learn a lot by observing modeling behaviour, therefore, a family could use the family account to post together for several years before they release children at 13 (or older) to post on their own personal account.  Family accounts could have multiple administrators, and children could learn in a safe(r) space what to post and what not to post before they need to start navigating their own personal page amongst their peers.

Yes, there are sites such as eFamily or Famster, but we all know the problems that arise from having more sites to check.  We simply stop using them after the initial set up (uh… like Ello?).  Making a family account on Facebook meets people where they already are.  We could keep reinventing the wheel, but doesn’t it make more sense to focus on making the wheel better?

So Facebook, make your site better.  Hey, you may even keep some teenagers around in the process.

What do you think of separate family accounts?  Would you start one?  Or would it just become another divide: would you rather keep family pics and news in the personal account?

7 comments

1 earthandink { 10.14.14 at 9:17 am }

I remember feeling a little iffy about Facebook when it first started because it had the requirement you had to be in college or college age and it basically had a No Adults Allowed sign complete with the off-kilter ‘s’. It set off my inner sirens.

Frankly, I find Facebook hard for numerous reasons and I think it needs competition. (I even know what I would do if I had a programmer to work with me to make it happen! And tiered information is a small part of it.)

The short version is (yeah there’s a longer version, but I’ll spare you) that I agree it would be nice to have a place to do that. A way to tier information so not everyone gets everything.

2 a { 10.14.14 at 9:31 am }

A member of my SIL’s husband’s family (i.e. random acquaintance) has created a family page, because they don’t want their teens to have their own accounts. FB could make it easier, though.

Seeing as I don’t post a whole lot of pics, and my husband doesn’t want anything about him posted anywhere, I don’t think a family account would be useful for me. Although, it would allow him to log in and FB stalk people without asking me to do it for him…

3 torthuil { 10.14.14 at 1:18 pm }

Family pages sound like a good idea. I have had many ambiguous feelings about FB lately. I used to think it was fun, but after all the bad publicity around privacy, and my infertility experiences which made me question how I present myself to the world, I find myself thinking it isn’t that fun anymore. I find myself using out of habit not because it is really meeting a need. Plus with a baby coming I’m re-thinking social media. I feel quite strongly that it’s not fair to her to put her picture/personal life all over the internet without her having a clue. Also, I want her to make good choices around social media as she grows up, and how can I expect that if I’m not respecting her privacy now? At the same time, we do have family and friends at a distance and we do want to include them in our family life somehow….so I don’t know. Your idea of a family page is appealing!

4 Bronwyn { 10.14.14 at 9:57 pm }

So how would it work? Would the family be another “person” on Facebook, whose feed gets shuffled in like all the rest? So it would be a personal account for The Smith Family (or whoever)? That sounds like something you could set up independently of Facebook changing anything.

Or would it be more like a page you can set up for a community or group, with each family member holding admin privileges – the distinction with the family page being that the individual members don’t ALSO need to have personal/private accounts. That could work for your purposes but people would only use it if their pages are going to show up like personal profiles in feeds.

5 Mel { 10.14.14 at 10:10 pm }

It definitely wouldn’t be a page, because the algorithm punishes pages that don’t pay for views. So it would be a personal account with multiple holders. Except instead of having to list a real first and last name and only have one user, you’d have a personal page called The Smith Family, and all four Smiths could log-in and post.

6 Persnickety { 10.15.14 at 2:05 am }

Interesting idea. I have found myslf detaching from FB for a number of reasons- fertility is up there, but also the tweaks they made meant that i wasn’t seeing what i wanted to see. i do use it to keep in contact with friends and family around the world, but FB algorithms dont work for me.
kind of like a mini blog for the family- if the feed readers got their act together, there is potentially an opportunity there too- it doesn’t have to be FB, it just needs to become as ubiquitous.

7 JustHeather { 10.15.14 at 7:32 am }

Definitely an interesting idea…and one I hadn’t thought of. I do like the idea of a family account or even more immediately a Family page (I think I might do this), however it won’t solve the fact that my dad is not online (more than Skype under my stepmom’s account and rarely checking his email account). The rest of my family, near and extended, would be much more accessible and I would feel free-r posting more photos.

There is Google+ people can use, but don’t. I just don’t think it has taken off as much, but I would like it too. I don’t use it much either though…

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