Facebook for Family Storytelling

Facebook thumbs up via Wikimedia Commons

Facebook is a great tool for “getting the word out” to your people quickly. It’s not just where I go to post news to my family and friends, it’s also where I go to see what news they might have to share.

If you are going to use Facebook to share family history there are some things to consider. At the risk of overthinking this topic, I offer these reminders:


Public vs. all of your Friends vs. Private Group

There are a lot of tutorials already about creating groups on Facebook. Potential groups might include

  • Your immediate family
  • Everyone in your friend group who is related to you and/or in laws
  • Groups from “each side” of an extended family – for example, people related to my mother might not be interested in information I want to share with my father’s relatives

Public posts are searchable and will be readable by anyone on Facebook. I sometimes use this option if I am trying to “cousin bait” and locate people who are family members but might not be in my friend list (yet.)

To Tag or not to Tag

Tag (CC SA 3.0 via wikimedia commons)

You can tag family members when you write a Facebook post. If you do choose to tag someone in order to get their attention, keep in mind that the people in the person’s friend list might see the post. Perhaps think twice about posting childhood photos, photos with ex-boyfriends, etc. for living people. On the other hand, if the subject of the photo says to go ahead and post the material, post it! I had a close relative ask for photos like this so he could share them with his children and grandchildren.

Copyright (again)

Posting copyrighted material that belongs to someone else without permission is always a bad idea. Even if that person shared the material or photo publicly, it’s always nice to ask that person for permission before¬†you put it in your Facebook feed.

Legacy Contact

Facebook has created a method by which your Facebook posts and photos can be preserved and accessed after you die. This is part of your digital legacy and you should give it some thought. The idea behind the feature is that someone you designate can become your legacy contact, and your Facebook page will no longer be accessible. Posts can still be made to your wall. Your legacy contact can change your profile and cover photos, and they can manage future friend requests. A nice feature is “see relationship” – your friends have the opportunity to see the timeline filtered down to the personal interaction between you and just that person.¬† The content can also be downloaded, which gives family and friends the opportunity to gather the important family information you shared.

Post Ideas

What should you post? Well, the things you normally post and share, for starters. As mentioned above, your Facebook feed is part of your digital legacy and will give a viewer a lot of insight into who you are and what is important to you. But if you want to share family history stories, consider posts like these:

  • “this day in history” or family anniversaries, especially if the family members are gone
  • Holiday memories – when every one else is re-posting the same meme, you could upload a photo from the family past and comment on the content
  • Photo sharing
  • Interesting family history discoveries
  • Relevant blog posts
  • Heritage vacation photos and anecdotes
  • And of course, if you publish a digital story somewhere else, such as YouTube or a blog, be sure to share it to your Facebook feed

Related links

Facebook Legacy

Group post privacy


Write a memory not a story



Getting Back on Track

Since my focus has recently been on my regular job, this blog has unfortunately found its way to a low spot on my priority list. I resolve this year to bring it back.

I realized recently how much I love making the digital stories. I still have lots of tales to tell my family, and I also believe digital media is an effective way to share this type of information.

I’ve also had some reasons to begin to consider making old fashioned paper printouts and books for the children in my life, and the number one reason for that is the recently disabled rootsweb website. Many people parked their family information on rootsweb and shared in the spirit of goodwill. Now security issues and possibly other business decisions have taken this resource offline, at least for now.

I had quite a bit of storytelling on rootsweb, and I am glad I kept a back up copy of my stories. I will be migrating them to this blog, and also producing paper copies of the stories for future safekeeping.

Hope you aren’t too affected by the rootsweb outage.