On Facebook, To Tag Or Not To Tag?

By Julie D. Andrews 

Facebook users can tag friends in videos, photos, check-ins and status updates, among other types of interactions. But there is an etiquette to be followed, as not everyone appreciates being tagged. When is it appropriate to tag and when should you just keep it to yourself?

DO: Ask permission. Before that eye roll makes full circle and the, “Yeah, right” gripe escapes your vocal cords, consider this: do you think your friends and acquaintances have time to open throngs of Facebook “you’ve been tagged” notifications clogging their inbox? Do they have copious amounts of free time to de-tag themselves, and in some cases, make contact with you to request that you take down unliked photos or comments? By tagging someone, you create more work for that person. Remember how you felt when Grandma plopped food onto your already-full plate telling you to eat more? Tagging people when they don’t want to be tagged is one surefire way to annoy them and get them to hide from your iPhone lens in future. Further, if the photo is any shade of compromising, risqué, or incriminating, some may even call it passive aggressive. You don’t know whether people feel comfortable being tagged until you ask.

DON’T: Do not ever, under any circumstance use (some may say abuse) tagging comments and photos to push a new product, spew a sales pitch, or push propaganda or inorganic messaging. It will backfire big time. People loathe this. Do this and you will not only lose trust, but risk losing scads of followers. It takes a long time to build a reputation and a short time to tarnish it.

DON’T: Use tagging as a way to draw attention to anything. This includes photos from a concert of your friends’ favorite group (that you saw and they missed), a new art work you liked, a celeb sighting, an engagement announcement or a baby shower invitation. Why? People love and respond positively to transparency. This means getting what you expect to be getting, knowing where it comes from and what it is. Dubious tagging is the antithesis of that. It is a trick, and leaves Facebook users feeling duped. You don’t ever want to be that tagger. The one whose Facebook notifications inject spread cringes and panic. Surprises of this sort never go over well.

DON’T: Go through your middle school yearbook and have a rollicking, “Remember When?” party with yourself and decide to post a gallery of scanned-in “trends of the 80s we’re glad disappeared” then tag all the friends that you now talk to once a year. This can really catch people off-guard, and it’s another move that (correctly or not) could be seen as passive aggressive. Remember friend or frienemy? Not only will most of these glory days pals instantly un-tag themselves, but they may even begin to question your judgment and whether they want to be Facebook friends with you at all. Let anyone involved know what you’re up to, maybe invite them to submit their own photos, inclusive of you with those braces, that mile-high hair and neon pink headband with matching skin-tight leggings. At least then, all’s fair game. Remember, what is cute to you is not always so adorable to others.

DO: If and when you upload photos of children, as a courtesy, tag their parents or otherwise inform them so that they will be aware that there are new photos of their children being viewed online. Some couples decide that they do not want any photos of their children online and unmeaningly posting blindly could cause an uncomfortable conversation. Taking photos is meant to be a feel-good endeavor. Don’t rain on that parade.

Readers: Do you follow these guidelines when tagging friends?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.