I don’t use Facebook as much as I used to, but I still find it to be a useful means of staying in touch with old friends. If you use Facebook, you know that you can tag friends in your posts, whether it’s an image that you’ve uploaded of them or an article that you think they might find of interest.
Like most people, I’ve had the occasional thing pop up on my page without my consent. Maybe it was a photo that I found to be unflattering, or a status update or Internet meme that wasn’t really relevant. Sometimes I’ve been tagged in posts about product giveaways and I wonder if my friend has been hacked.
This happens so rarely that I’ve always written it off as a minor annoyance, and de-tag myself accordingly. But I’ve heard some horror stories from friends who really object to being tagged in other people’s Facebook posts. One woman, for instance, told me about logging on after her husband’s funeral to find that an acquaintance had tagged her in a post about her annual holiday party. She hadn’t even attended the person’s party, and felt that this showing up on her profile made it look like she was out celebrating. She’s also been tagged in numerous posts about grief and loss. While the original posters probably meant it out of kindness, she’s found the attention overbearing.
I also have friends who have objected to being tagged in memes or “humorous” posts that use bad language or X-rated themes. Many people prefer to keep their profiles fairly basic and innocuous in case a potential employer is having a look. Being tagged in something that could be construed as offensive undermines that.
The good news is that Facebook gives users the option to approve any tags before they post to his or her wall. You can’t stop a friend from sharing an image of you with your eyes closed, but you can remove the tag so that your contacts don’t see it.
The best etiquette is to always ask before tagging someone. Alternatively, you can send the joke or photos in a separate private message. Let them decide for themselves if they want it on their profile.