Facebook today announced that Open Graph app developers will be able to integrate in-line tagging so that users can mention their friends in messages they share from an app.
This feature will allow developers to give users more control over the posts they make from an app. Previously, apps could integrate “action tagging,” which published stories that said a user was “with” a friend. With the new “mention tagging,” users can reference a friend’s name the same way they would with the @ symbol on Facebook.com. For example, a user can now mention a friend in a Foursquare check-in, recommending the place to someone, without the post implying that the users are currently at the location together.
The change gives third-party apps similar functionality to Facebook.com. Interestingly, Facebook released this API before it integrated it into its own iOS and Android apps. Users of Facebook’s mobile touch site, m.facebook.com, however, can already use mention tagging. The site offers a drop-down menu of friends whenever a user begins typing someone’s name.
We’d like to see more developers take advantage of friend tagging features like this and action tagging, which was introduced in March. Travel app Wipolo and the Nike+ running app allow users to tag friends, but Spotify, Hulu, Instagram and a number of other apps where this would be useful have not added the option.
For mention tagging, Facebook recommends that developers include a clear indicator of how to add a tag. For example, a specific “insert friend tag” icon or an auto drop-down menu when users type an @ symbol. Developers should clearly indicate when a user has been tagged and provide a way to undo tags. The social network also says that messages containing mentions need to be composed by the user and explicitly meant to be shared on Facebook. Developers cannot prefill mentions in user messages.
More technical details about mention tagging are available here.