What is a Facebook Tag?

Facebook-TagA Facebook “Tag” may be one of the most widely used and frequently misunderstood conventions in social media these days. According to Facebook Help Center tag section:

“A tag is a special kind of link. When you tag someone, you create a link to their timeline. The post you tag the person in may also be added to that person’s timeline. For example, you can tag a photo to show who’s in the photo or post a status update and say who you’re with.”

In the above description, Facebook specifically mentions tagging photos, but tags are not limited to pictures. Tags are burdened these days by a few key misconceptions.

  1. If you tag someone in a photo, many people believe that the tagged person was in, or at the scene of the photo. FALSE – by tagging them, you are just giving them a heads up
  2. If you tag someone in a photo, the photo will show up in his timeline. MAYBE – as Facebook states above, the tagged post may show up in the tagged user’s timeline
  3. You can only tag users in a photo. FALSE – you can tag users in text posts as well. As you begin typing a name in a post, Facebook may offer to auto complete the name of one of your friends. Alternately, you can type @username to create a tag

Misunderstandings can arise in the case of #1 above. Just because you were tagged in a picture on a beach in Aruba, it doesn’t mean you were there. You could have been at work.

Your friends can add tags to your posts without you knowing, which can be off-putting for some, who don’t want others altering content that they’ve posted. The setting is called Tag Review. To alter your settings so that you have the right to preapprove tags in your posts, do the following:

  • Click the wheel icon at the top right of any Facebook page and select Account Settings
  • In the left-hand column, click Timeline and Tagging
  • Look for the setting Review tags friends add to your own posts on Facebook? and click Edit to the far right
  • Select Enabled from the dropdown menu

If you are tagged in a post, and want to remove the tag for whatever reason:

  • Go to your activity log
  • Click Photos in the left-hand column
  • Select the photos you’d like to remove a tag from
  • Click Report/Remove Tags at the top of the page
  • Click Untag Photos to confirm

Tagging also has implications for users’ privacy. Facebook and others are using facial recognition technology combined with the tags or other identifying text or metadata to compile huge databases of people and faces. Facebook alone is reported to have 90 billion photos, according to a recent article by Care2.com. If you want to stay under the radar you may want to limit the number of photos you’re tagged in, especially facial photos. This is a key point for young Facebook users who may susceptible to predators. If your kids are on Facebook, it’s a great idea to have a talk about limiting the number of photos they are tagged, by them or their friends.


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