How the Redesigned Profile’s Recently Tagged Photos Panel Can Be Abused

An emergent behavior is demonstrating the unprecedented power users have over the profiles of friends who’ve opted into the new redesign. The five photos a user was most recently tagged in are displayed in a panel at the top of the profile. A user’s friends can therefore tag them in a sequence of photos to display a large message across the top of their profile.

Due to the opt-out nature of photo tags, single tagged photos or a photo sequence will be displayed to the profile’s visitors until the user hides the photos from this panel by clicking the ‘x’ button or detags themselves. Depending on a user’s privacy settings, these photos may be visible to people who aren’t their friends.

Facebook users have complained in the past about the potential negative impact of being tagged in photos without their consent. Some conclude that a user should simply defriend those who abuse the feature, but that can be a drastic sanction against someone who was just playing a practical joke or didn’t mean to offend them by tagging an embarrassing or objectionable photo.

The impact of unwanted photo tagging was previously limited, though, as users could only affect things on a friend’s wall or buried within the friend’s tagged photos. The profile redesign creates a highly visible section which can be manipulated by others.

Users can of course upload photos and tag themselves to use the trick to display their own message as a joke, for self-promotion, or to draw attention to a desired cause or interest. However, unless Facebook changes its opt-out tagged photo policy or creates special settings for the Recently Tagged Photos panel, expect to see these photo sequences pushed to people’s profiles without their consent, both as pranks and maliciously.

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11 Responses to “How the Redesigned Profile’s Recently Tagged Photos Panel Can Be Abused”

  1. Lionel Tilmont says:

    I had written a similar post called “New Facebook profile will bring more embarrassment and Spam for the whole family !”
    http://vonbrucken.amplify.com/2010/12/06/new-facebook-profile-will-bring-more-embarrassment-and-spam-for-the-whole-family/
    Albeit in my example it was trashier pictures ;)

  2. johan luminus says:

    there is a way to avoid being tagged like this, though its pretty drastic, its called the super logout. to do it, whenever you would normally log out of facebook, instead deactivate your account. just reactivate it when you return, while you are away and your account is deactivated, nobody will be able to tag you (on the downsidem, they wont be able to mail you or invite you to events etc either)

  3. Apryl says:

    The “fear” that some people express over this type of thing amazes me.

    If someone tags a photo of me – I am notified and can remove the tag. I can make my photos “untaggable.” As for someone “tagging” an objectionable photo and making it pop to the top, if it is that objectionable, I should not have posted that photo. If it is someone else’s photo, again, I can remove the tag. I can set my account so I can not be tagged in any photo, by anyone.

    As for someone using this feature to make a message board – more power to them for thinking of it! Of course, I could do without the Justin Beiber board…

    This is reminiscent of the phone companies “fear”tactic sales pitch when they introduced caller ID and call Block. They said “NOW you can have CONTROL over your telephone.”

    I always have control over my phone – without those services. I chose to answer or not. I chose to continue the conversation or not.

    This 5 photo tag string bothers me not one bit.

  4. Damnit says:

    If you clicked “x” on all the photos and you don’t have anything, how can you get the photo panel back?!

  5. Kirill says:

    Well, my top 5 photo’s been removed by facebook.
    I think this was either a bug, or due to the fact that I have made myself a “Custom header”.

    And I think that this is actually the first thing that allows a personal touch to the way a profile looks.
    In addition this is great for marketing, and spam/abuse. but you know
    With great power, comes great responsibility
    :)

    Hope they give me my header back soon, because it was really awesome!

  6. Kate Trgovac says:

    It appears you can somewhat control this by how you set up your privacy settings under the “Things Others Share” area. You can choose to restrict who sees photos that have been tagged with you in it.

    See https://skitch.com/mynameiskate/rd64g/privacy-settings

    So, for example, when I look at my profile, I see the 5 most recent photos that have been tagged with me. BUT when my friends look at my profile, they see my five most recent profile pics.

  7. Josh Constine says:

    @Kate: I tried your method, but setting Photos and Videos I’m Tagged In to Only Me doesn’t cause my friend to see my 5 latest profile pics. They simply don’t see the panel at all. If you can take screenshots and send them to joshscspam@gmail.com showing that you can effectively change the Recently Tagged Photos to a Recent Profile Photos tab through privacy controls, we’d be interested in posting about it.

  8. Radio Roundtable: Twitter-quitter Celebs, Facebook profile changes & Navy issue « Media Bullseye – A New Media and Communications Magazine says:

    [...] profile changes: and, surprise, surprise–there’s a privacy question popping up. Bryan points us to an article discussing the prominence of recently tagged photos at the top of the new profiles–and how [...]

  9. Kate Trgovac says:

    @Josh: Just sent you four screenshots, including my view, my friend’s view and two album views. Let me know if you want to see any others. Maybe it’s just a fluke?

  10. Anon says:

    When you are tagged in a photo, and the picture goes in the banner thing at the top, all you have to do is scroll over the picture, and a little ‘x’ comes up in the top right corner. You don’t have to detag, defriend, de-anything. It’s not hard, or scary, or stressful.

  11. Off the Pass: week of December 13, 2010 | theblackboard.net says:

    [...] feel it represents you). Clearly people can have a lot of fun with the new photo panel, as shown here and in this amazingly creative profile photo [...]

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