Of the numerous privacy updates Facebook unveiled recently, perhaps none are as powerful as the new tagging feature.
Previously, when it came to incriminating photos or embarrassing status updates posted by friends, a Facebook user's only option was to do damage control: a tagged photo of her would appear instantly on her profile, and remain there until she was able to scramble to a computer to detag it.
Now, Facebook has, for the first time, given users the ability to screen the content they are tagged in before it appears on their profile, allowing for far greater control over how their online personas appear. (We've outlined a step-by-step, illustrated guide that explains how you can take advantage of the revamped setting in the slideshow below.) Facebook's update also allows users to screen the tags other people add to their posts, and has significantly expanded its "detagging" tool to help people report abusive posts, request a photo be removed, or block other users.
"There’s one new feature that you really must turn on as soon as it becomes available to you: profile review," points out F-Secure's Jason Sattler in a guest post for AllFacebook.com, which includes insightful analysis of the new tool. "This feature is important because it gives you control over your profile. If a potential employer or an organization considering you for a scholarship is viewing your profile, you don’t want to give others the ability to post questionable images directly on your wall."
According to Facebook's blog post introducing thee privacy upgrades, people have been asking for this feature for some time: One of the top requests we've heard is for the ability to approve these tags before they show up on your profile," Facebook wrote.
This new way of protecting your privacy takes on greater importance given that it was introduced alongside more liberal tagging settings that enable users to tag anyone in their posts, whether they are friends with that person or not, though the user must agree to be included in the post before it appears. Previously, a user could only tag other people she was friends with. One of the other features rolled out by Facebook will make it much easier for users to vet their e-appearances: on your profile page, you can see how other Facebook users, whether an ex-boyfriend or a boss, will view your profile just by entering their names.
The tagging tools have certain limitations that should be noted.
While Facebook promised that all photos tagged by non-friends would not appear on a user's profile until she or he had reviewed and approved it, in our tests of the tool, we found that when non-friends tagged others in their posts, the tagged user would receive no notification that he had been tagged. The image or text was not linked to his profile, but neither was the user notified that his name or likeness had been included in a post. A Facebook spokesperson told The Huffington Post that this will change, as the social network has not yet "fully rolled out the ability to tag non-friends in posts."
In addition, the updated tagging tool allows users to keep a post from appearing on their profile, but it does not control whether or not they are tagged in the content. If you've been identified in a photo and want out, you'll have to go through the process of your detagging yourself--one click will keep it off your profile, but it won't take you off the post.
Learn more about this new feature below, then check out our post on 9 Facebook privacy settings you need to check now. (H/T F-Secure social media strategist Jason Sattler's excellent guest post on AllFacebook.com)