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Facebook photos: to tag or not to tag?

8 June 2009 4 Comments by Rachel Wilkerson

two-drunk-looking-young-women-outsideWhen Facebook gave us the “tag photo” option, it was a bit scary. People could post pictures of us on the internet and everyone could look at them. But then we realized how easily this could be used to our advantage. We could post pictures of ourselves on the internet and everyone we cared about would look at them! I don’t think I took a single picture in college without the passionate hope that it would be good enough to tag, or, even better, win the coveted spot as my profile picture. The internet was overflowing with the most flattering pictures of us, all looking super-thin and having blasts.

Except when it wasn’t. Like when our friends got to tagging us in photos before we could get to un-tagging them. Or when we thought our pics of the three-story beer bong were funny, and potential employers did not. It became apparent that this whole picture situation could be a huge disadvantage.

Facebook profile settings allow you to choose who gets to see tagged photos of you. (Go to Settings > Privacy Settings > Profile > Photos Tagged of You.). You can make it so that the only pic people will see of you is your chosen profile picture. The eyes-half-closed tongue-out shots taken by a friend at a party, or even just the less-than-cute ones where you’re squinting and forgot to do skinny arm, are hidden away. You can choose to let people browse just the pictures you upload.

So is this the best way to do things? Is the “tag” not it?

First, examine your own vanity. How much do you care what people think of you? If you don’t allow anyone to see tagged photos of you, it’s possible that no one will ever see an unflattering picture of you. This is a great reason to say “see ya!” to tagged photos. However, if you’re in a photo in one of your friend’s albums, it’s still quite visible, whether you change your privacy setting or not. If someone’s friends with your friend, they’ll find those pics if they search hard enough.

Next, consider your feelings about Facebook as a major tool for stalking. You may not want people you don’t know well — or those you just don’t like much — to see your life through your pictures. An acquaintance from class could know where you spent your weekend, what you wore to that concert, and, more importantly, who you spend your fun time with. If you’re the kind of person who double-books dates, you might want to keep your tagged pics off, lest any overeager suitor posts pictures of the two of you together and the other guy finds it.

In my opinion, not allowing people to see your tagged photos pretty much renders Facebook obsolete. If everyone goes unstalkable, then what’s the point of checking it hundreds of times a day? And if you are into being seen, you want everyone to know exactly where you were, who you were with and what you were doing. If you’re a student and all your friends are on Facebook, they might possibly forget about you over summer vacation! Without a presence on Facebook, you may find you don’t have a presence in the world! And how will your ex know how well you’re doing now?

Comment below: Do you keep your tagged photos on or off?


  • EN said:

    My tagged pictures are viewable only to friends, although I have a “friends list” of all the adult members of my family who are my FB friends, and they can’t see tagged pictures. If I ever start friending employers or potential employers, they will also have a list blocked from tagged pictures. I also make sure to consider the content of each album I publish when deciding who can and cannot see the pictures in it, regardless of whether my friends allow people to see tagged pictures or not.

  • Anu said:

    Something to be aware of, which I think should have been addressed in this article, is that a Facebook user can prevent individual friends from viewing his/her pictures.

    (account> privacy settings> profile information> photos and videos of me > customize> “Hide these from …(fill in names)”

  • Mr. Watts said:

    Weather it’s FaceBook, MySpace, or (fill in social networking site)I think that if it’s being used for profecinal uses then fine, but with stalkers, rapist, viruses, killers, bullies, or what have you do you realy want any of your personal business out there like that? I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s been personaly burned by one or more of these sites, but I hope they get their Karma.

  • Bob said: