Facebook Tagging – What It Is and How It Works

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Facebook Tagging: What Is It?

Facebook tagging is when you mention a Facebook friend’s name in a comment or status update you post on the site, or attach a Facebook friend’s name to a photo or other image.


How Does Tagging Work?

You simply start typing the name of the Facebook friend, and Facebook will pop up a list of matching names from among your FB friends and the fan pages you’ve liked. If you want to tag someone, just pick their name or fan page name from that list and FB will add the name to your comment/status update/image/photo/video in the location where your cursor is currently located.

In images and photos you can tag people and faces within the photo or image, or in the text description of the photo or image. Note that when you tag people within a photo, you are revealing that person’s identity to anyone who can see the photo, per your own security settings. This means that if your security settings for a given photo are “Public”, anyone on Facebook as well as anyone searching the Facebook site (whether they have a FB account or not) can see the name of the person you’ve essentially labeled in the photo. If you set security to ‘friends only’, then only your own FB friends can see the photo and therefore they are the only ones who can see the tag(s).

Tags are also links to the tagged person’s fan page or FB timeline, and the tagged person will receive a notification from FB that they’ve been tagged in your comment/status update/image/photo/video.


What Are The Effects, Wanted and Possibly Unwanted, of Tagging?

Anyone who sees the tagged comment/status update/image/photo/video can click on the tag link to visit the tagged person’s page or timeline. The tagged person’s security settings will dictate how much the visitor can see, however. Tagging does not override anyone’s security settings. So if the tagged person has their timeline locked up tight, such that only their own Facebook friends can see anything other than their name and profile photo, strangers who follow the tag link won’t get to see anything more than that.

When you tag a FB friend, that person also has the option of adding your tagged comment/status update/image/photo/video to their own timeline. Some users have their security settings such that when they’re tagged, the comment/status update/image/photo/video is automatically added to their own timeline. Others have things set so they can choose whether or not to add the thing. Bear this in mind before you tag: if the tagged person has the auto-add option selected, your comment/status update/image/photo/video will automatically be added to their timeline. Proceed with caution on anything that has the potential to cause embarassment or friction.

One side effect of tagging that people often don’t think about is that when you use tagging, you’re letting anyone who sees your comment/status update/image/photo know that you’re FB friends with the tagged individual, or that you are a fan of the tagged page. For most people this is a non-issue, but there are times and situations where an FB user might not want to let the world know such things about themselves.


Accidental Tagging / Automatic Tagging

Facebook would just LOVE for all of our comments/status updates/images/photos/videos to be generously tagged, because Facebook wants us to be creating as many connections as possible within their site and database. To that end, Facebook will always try to get users to tag by popping up that little tagging pick-list of names and fan pages anytime FB “notices” a user is typing the first few letters of a person’s or fan page’s name.

If you’re not careful, you could accidentally tag someone when you didn’t intend to tag at all, or if you have a couple FB friends whose names start with the same letters you could accidentally tag the wrong person.

For those times when you DO want to tag, just be sure to select the correct name from the tagging pop-up list. When you DON’T want to tag at all, a tap on the Esc (Escape) key will make the tagging pop-up list go away.


Tagging Etiquette

Most people do NOT want to be tagged in photos and images, because they have no control over who among YOUR FB friends will see the photo and now be able to identify them. It’s actually considered poor form to post an image with others clearly visible in it without those others’ knowledge and permission to begin with, and tagging is just one more no-no after that line has been crossed.

Most people also do not want images of their children posted online without their knowledge, or to have their children tagged in images that are posted online.


Why Would You Want to Tag?

Tagging is typically used to draw FB friends’ attention to a given comment/status update/image/photo/video. For example, if you and that FB friend are both involved in an online discussion, you can tag the friend in your reply to notify him or her that you have responded. Similarly, you can use tagging to draw the attention of an FB friend who ISN’T involved in the discussion at present when you think that friend would be interested in GETTING involved. It’s also a handy way to draw an FB friend’s attention to a specific comment/status update/image/photo/video you think they would be interested in.

However, whenever the discussion or subject at hand is controversial in any way, or there’s a possibility that your FB friend wouldn’t want their interest in the subject to become public knowledge, it’s often wiser to take the conservative route and send the comment/status update/image/photo/video to that FB friend in a private message.


Links To More Information

Click here for links to Facebook’s own Help pages on the topic of tagging, for desktop computer users as well as for users of various mobile devices.


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