Fed Up with Facebook? Move Your Family to Slack

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/02/12/fed-up-with-facebook-move-your-family-to-slack/

Disgusted by Facebook’s behavior but feel stuck using it because it’s the only way you communicate with some family members? Try the free tier of the group-messaging system Slack instead. It’s great for families, doesn’t incorporate ads, and guarantees your privacy. A little training may be required.

1 Like

I’ve tried to get groups of friends and family to move to Slack but to no avail. I train and give little workshops, but one or two do it and then the rest don’t and it fizzles out again.

They all join WhatsApp no problem so I really don’t know what it is that stops them.

The things that make FB work, are the ease of use, the Newsfeed, and the people are already there. I tried Ello and never figured out the controls. They just were Not intuitive to me - FB is easy. But the Newsfeed is the most important. The user does not have to go to a specific group to see what is happening there, it mostly shows up in the Newsfeed as do the posts from individuals and other groups. It sort of operates like a Venn diagram with my diverse “friends” and groups circles overlapping my Newsfeed circle a small amount. Until something like comes along, where the user can check everything at once, FB will rule.

1 Like

I agree with John Burt, above. Slack is WAY too complex to serve as an FB alternative. It’s a shame, because FB has plenty of user interface quirks on its own.

I’m a little surprised to hear you say that, having set up my family on Slack. As a user, you just see that there are posts in a channel, you click or tap it to read them, and you reply as desired. And, even if you do make a mistake, you don’t have to worry about it being seen by the world, plus you can easily delete or edit anything you do.

Personally, I find Facebook horribly confusing, especially when trying to get to groups I’m in, or find specific comments on posts. And of course, Facebook intentionally makes the privacy settings as difficult to find and understand as possible so they can gull users into revealing as much information as they can.

1 Like

I find Slack challenging. I use it on iOS only very casually for a local DEF CON group that I participate in intermittently. It always has a badge showing 1 to 3 notifications, but the badging never goes away even when I think I’ve read everything. Whenever I open the app, it seems to be at a random scroll point with no easy way to figure out which messages I haven’t yet read. Scrolling isn’t smooth, so looking through a long list to try to find my place (by seeing which messages are familiar) is frustrating.

I occasionally get notifications, but I don’t know why I’m notified only occasionally but the vast majority of messages result neither in notifications nor badging.

I first installed Slack on the desktop when TidBITS created a Slack, and remember some of the same frustrations then and I quit following it.

I don’t (and won’t) use Facebook, so I can’t compare. It also hasn’t been anything like a priority for me to figure it out, so it’s possible that the answers are obvious but just not obvious enough for an only slightly motivated, casual user. But I can well see family members who are engaged with Facebook thinking Slack just doesn’t cut it.


Yes, “FB will rule”. That is the problem. Although people complain/etc. about FB leaking (or whatever) their private information, apparently these people don’t care enough about their privacy to stop using FB.

I don’t use FB for a variety of reasons, one being, I want my digital-footprint to be as small as possible.

I think the big issue is that people in general, resist change. I have tried 3 other FaceBook ‘replacements’, (MeWe, Freezoxee and Freetalk) some of which are pretty decent as replacements go. The problem as I see it is I have never been able to get anyone else (actual friends who are FaceBook Friends) to even attempt to use any of these. I have no clue as to how to make that happen, but for me I like to be in touch with these people so I am on FB, but I am reducing the amount of time I use FB. I expect that Slack, which I think would be an awesome tool for families and friends, to suffer the same fate as a FB replacement.

2 posts were split to a new topic: Collaboration solution for a podcast group

As some comments have alluded to, the issues is not related to how hard it is to use but to who is using it.

Evryone uses FB becuase everyone uses facebook.

If I stop using FB i’ll loose contact with people from my high school days, the high school band, 2nd and 3rd cousins, relatives in other countries, etc… And that’s me. Other’s have things like social networks based on countries of ancestors, school soccer teams, neighboorhood watch, and so on. FB gave them all an opportunity to drop maintaining private web sites and mailing lists and all of those hassles.

Getting all of those people who are not “first degree” contacts to switch is just not going to happen.

Honestly, these problems are due to the fact that you’re using Slack so infrequently. I see much the same thing with a few Slack groups that I check on a similar schedule. (There’s a button, at least in the desktop version of Slack, to see all mentions of you, which makes it easy to see why those badges are there and then mark those channels as read to clear them.) But I think most systems would run into similar problems with sporadic use. And our public SlackBITS group doesn’t get that much traffic other than on Apple event days, so it may hit a similar problem.

In contrast, our family Slack gets a small amount of traffic nearly every day, and from people who we absolutely want to talk with, so it’s easy to keep up and read everything. Figuring out the notifications is the main tricky part. What I might suggest is turning the notifications up all the way, so you’re getting notified for everything, and then dialing them back as you get annoyed by particular channels.

For instance, in the TidBITS staff Slack, I have it set to notify me for just about everything, since it’s my business and I need to stay aware of what’s being said. Except, it turns out, the #random channel, which I can check at my leisure.

My parents, in our family Slack, however, have decided that they don’t really want notifications at all. But they’re retired and check Slack a number of times a day on their Macs and iOS devices, so it’s more of an email frequency than a chat frequency. If they post something and I reply immediately because I happen to be online and have time, then the conversation can move quickly for a brief while because we’re all in the space time and space. And others can chime in as they check or get notified.

To be clear, we don’t expect many people to quit Facebook because Slack might be a better family communications hub. Everyone will have to decide just how evil/useful Facebook is for themselves, and act accordingly. We’re just trying to point out that there are alternatives and with a little effort, Slack can work really well for families—we’ve done it.

I’m part of a group that migrated to a private Facebook group from an old online forum because that’s where we all were (we had been on Google+ too for a while, which was basically all that I used G+ for.) But many of us have been wondering if Facebook really is the best way to stay connected and chatting. I suggested Slack last year (not that I have ever used it, but I had surely heard about it), but nobody else was interested. I may suggest it again.

I am definitely still looking at Facebook and interacting minimally, but, for the most part, I’m using it far less, and I think many of my contacts/friends are as well. Definitely my kids barely use it anymore at all.

It’s definitely a YMMV situation. I think I could get my dad and stepmother on it, but my in-laws could barely do email at the peak of their computer literacy. My sister and niece are very on top of online stuff, but they use Facebook and Instagram enough, I’m not sure I could convince them to get into Slack. However, we’ll be setting up a nuclear family one soon, and we’ll rope in other relatives as we can!

1 Like

The iOS version of Slack still has problems like this years after it first appeared, which is disappointing. It’s not unusable, but it’s not as consistent as it should be.