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.