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)
First, navigate to the "Privacy Settings" tag which appears under "Account" at the top right-hand side of Facebook.com.
Click "How Tags Work" to change the settings and take avantage of the new feature.
You'll be presented with a window that offers five different options for controlling who can tag both you and the content you've posted to Facebook. Some of these settings are new, like "Profile Review," while others, like allowing others to check you in to locations, are not. If you'd like to be able to review photos and other posts you're tagged in before they appear on your profile, turn the first setting, "Profile Review," to "on." Turning on the second option, "Tag Review," lets you "review tags friends add to your content before they appear on Facebook," as Facebook explains. (I've left mine "off" as I, for now, trust my friends not to tag my posts in inappropriate ways). The last three are fairly self-explanatory: "Profile Visibility" controls who can see posts you've been tagged in, "Tag Suggestions" allows Facebook to use facial recognition technology to suggest tagging you in photos that appear to be of you, and the final setting lets others share your location via a Places check-in.
Once you've set the "Profile Review" option to "on," you'll see a "Pending Posts" notification appear when you've been tagged. Click on this tab to review and approve content before it appears on your profile.
In the "Pending Posts" tab you can look over all the posts in which you've been tagged. Clicking the checkmark will allow the content to appear on your profile. Clicking the "x" will keep the post from appearing on your profile, though it's important to note that you will not be detagged. If you want your name taken off a photo, you must click on the image, then "Report/Remove Tag." Facebook has also upgraded its detagging tool to give users far more options when it comes to removing abusive or annoying content. Now, users not only have the ability to remove a tag of themselves, but they can also flag the post for Facebook, alerting administrators that the photo is pornographic, contains hate speech, or is otherwise problematic. They can also contact the user that posted the photo to request that it be both detagged and removed (Find out more here or here).