Facebook has just changed its status update tagging tool to automatically display a drop-down menu of friends, Pages, events and groups you might be trying to tag. Users can still enter an @ symbol followed by the name of something to tag it, but now will see matches for any word they capitalize. It appears that only those with access to Facebook Questions and the new status publisher associated with it can currently use the new tagging method.
The drop-downs appear in real time as you type, which could encourage tagging for those unfamiliar with the @ method. However, those who don’t usually use capitalization might miss the new feature, and unsolicited drop downs may be distracting while typing.
Users can tag status updates with up to six profiles or events they’re connected to, placing a link to those Facebook pages in the update. Friends tagged receive a notification, making it a great way to ensure someone sees a piece of content. To be tagged, an item must have representation on Facebook itself, and can’t just be a piece of content liked on a third party website. There is currently some delay after connecting to something before you can tag it, which can be frustrating when you find an interesting new Page or event and immediately want to share it.
This change will likely reveal the opportunity to tag things in status updates to many users. There are lots of useful applications for update tagging, such as citing an event one is about to go to, or as an alternative way to suggest Pages to friends. However, increased prevalence may lead to comical use, or abuse, depending on your perspective. For example, one Facebook employee told us of a practical joke his friends play on each other. One can tag a friend in an embarrassing update, but restrict the distribution of the update to only that friend. They typically panic or get mad as they can’t tell they’re the only one seeing the update.