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How to screen tags on Facebook

A friend of mine recently got a nasty shock. She woke up one morning to discover a dozen or more notifications in her e-mail Inbox, all of them containing comments from family and friends about a series of photos that had suddenly appeared on her Facebook profile. It turns out that she had been tagged in the photos by an ex-roommate, who thought it would be fun to remember some of the sorority parties that they went to when they were both freshmen at college.

The photos included numerous images of partying and underage drinking, and they certainly weren’t photos that my friend would have chosen to put on display for her family, work colleagues, and a potential Internet audience of millions.

Tagging on Facebook – the act of attaching someone’s name to a photo or other content that appears on the social network – has always been a contentious issue, and it has become even more so in the wake of recent changes to the site. Not only are Facebook photos more prominent than they used to be but the most recent tagged photos also appear at the top of your Timeline, which is the first thing that visitors to your Facebook page will see.

So how can you prevent people tagging you and avoid the potential embarrassment of having unwanted photos showing up unexpectedly?

Well, sadly, the answer to the first part is: “You can’t.” By joining Facebook, you are automatically allowing a number of actions by other Facebook members and one of those is their ability to add your name to an image or any other Facebook content. However, once you have been tagged, you do have the right to “untag” yourself. Although that won’t remove the post or image from the tagger’s page or elsewhere on Facebook, it will remove your name.

There is better news when it comes to preventing tagged posts or images from appearing on your own Facebook profile. Here’s how you can enable tag screening before images (and other posts) appear on your Timeline:

  • Go to your Timeline and click on the arrow next to Activity Log.
  • Select Timeline Settings.
  • Under Who can add things to my timeline? go to Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline? and click on Edit.
  • Select Enabled and close the window. Make sure that the review setting now says On.

Enabling tag review will allow you to manually approve posts you’re tagged in before they appear on your Timeline. When you have a post to review, just click on Activity Log and you will be able to see each post you are tagged in. You can then decide whether you want to untag yourself and whether that post appears on your Timeline or is hidden.

Keep in  mind that enabling tag review only gives you control over what appears on your own Facebook page. Unapproved images of you, whether tagged or untagged, may still appear on multiple other Facebook pages and be available through Graph Search and external search engines.

Finally, there is a moral to the tagging story: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That means never tagging someone unless you are sure that person is OK with your tag, and never posting pictures that could offend or embarrass someone else.

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