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This is no time to tag…on Facebook

Social Media Strategist Lauren MacEwen, in the shirt Friends don't tag friends on Facebook

Feeling that it had been a little while since Facebook made a change to how you use it? Yeah, we did too. Thankfully they did not let us down and changed something else on Facebook engagement. You can no longer tag people on your fan page.

Many of you might be saying, “Wait, I could never tag people. Pages can’t tag people.” Well, you are not entirely wrong. A page cannot tag a person. However there was a loophole. If your personal profile was “friends” with someone, then you could tag them on your fan page as long as you were posting as admin.

Many people used this loop hole to use both their fan page and profile to promote their business. They would do massive networking through their profile to meet people. Then they would post on their fan page and tag people in their posts.  This form of tag spam has not been well received. The problem of course is that people don’t generally know who owns a page, so they don’t know who tagged them.

Facebook has been trying to balance the functionality of its business sector with the privacy of it s private sector. Ultimately the private sector must come first, as it is the bread and butter of Facebook. 750 million members are a lot of people, and Facebook wants to make sure that their needs are kept priority. Though many pages ill be upset about this change, this will keep business to fan pages and personal to personal pages. Well, for the most part. At the very least it will create a clean line between the two.

Is Big Brother Tagging you on Facebook?

Facebook-face-recognitionA while ago Facebook released automatic facial recognition in the United States.  It caused a bit of a kerfluffle but everyone did go back to their regular existence and pretty much forgot about it. They are now releasing it all over the world so the issue is once again in the forefront of everyones mind.

What is it?

In a nut shell, when you upload pictures to your Facebook it auto-recognizes the faces of people you have previously tagged. It will ask you if it is that person and suggest you tag them in the post.

Why it is good?

The ease of use is what makes this such a great tool. Before facial recognition, tagging pictures was a cumbersome endeavor. Now it is super easy. Facebook not only makes suggestions but it groups the suggestions into categories. So if your friend Susan is a suggested tag, all the pictures it thinks are of Susan will be under one heading. All you have to do is click her name to tag her.

The suggestions are only on the pictures that it recognizes a face. If there is a face and you have not tagged it, it will list them but you have to add the tag yourself.

Not Fool Proof

This is not a fool proof endeavor. The facial recognition will not grab a lot of profile pictures or if people are obscured. Not to mention that recognizing faces is an art not a science, so it will make mistakes. If you are like me and always look like someone else, it will probably suggest people tag you as your cousins friend Sofie.

More Tags

The logic behind facial recognition is not a big brother attempt to dominate and track photos.  It is actually to make tagging easier and more prevalent. The thought is, if they make the tagging process easier, you will be more likely to tag more of your photos and this will drive up conversation and engagement.

Remember, everything about Facebook is ultimately to drive conversation and interactions.

The problem

This is another time that Facebook is pushing the limits of peoples privacy.  What if you don’t want to be tagged in photos?  What if it tags you in a pic that is not you? What if it starts suggesting that people who aren’t your friends tag you in their pics.

These are all very valid concerns.  Thankfully they are not eliminating our privacy, you might not have a lock on the bathroom door but you still have a door.

If you do not want to be flagged in the auto tagging feature, you can change your privacy settings to prevent this from happening. It will turn off the suggestions for any where your face appears in a photo.  If the person wants to tag you, they will have to do it old school and actually click on your face and tag you.

Just like in the past, if you were tagged in a pic and didn’t want to be, you could remove the tag. This is always an option. I recommend making sure that you receive notices via email letting you know if you were tagged. You can check, or change, this setting in your privacy and notifications settings in your account.

Lastly, only your friends can tag you. You have to be friends with someone on Facebook for them to be able to tag you in a pic. They can still tag you in other peoples pictures, but you can rest easy that some stranger isn’t going to tag your pic in some incriminating photo. You only have to worry about your friends doing that.

The big concern

The biggest concern people have is that this is a gateway drug for photo tagging. First it is suggestions for tagging friends; then fan pages, then Facebook will just auto tag you in pictures all over the world!

This is not going to happen. For one, Facebook would be slammed in the media, and likely go to court for privacy issues if they were to try this. Plus, everyone tends to look like someone else somewhere. Yes, we are all unique flowers but the application that does facial recognition does not always see the intrinsic details that make you so completely different from the person in Seattle who look remarkably like you, but yet is not you.

So until we have some Minority Report type technology that is doing retinal scans, we can all breath easy.