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Grumpy Cat Time: It's Time to Review Facebook Tagging Etiquette

03/22/2015 08:47 PM - Permalink

Let me quickly apologize.  The grumpy cat is coming out a little bit, here.  :P

I'd like to take a moment to discuss proper Facebook tagging etiquette, and explain 1) why it's important to me, and 2) why I filter your tags in my posts or photos, and what you tag me in, and ignore probably 60% of them.  

From Facebook’s official description page “What is tagging and how does it work?” – discovered by quickly Googling “Facebook tagging”.

When you tag someone, you create a link to their profile. The post you tag the person in may also be added to that person’s Timeline. For example, you can tag a photo to show who's in the photo or post a status update and say who you're with. If you tag a friend in your status update, anyone who sees that update can click on your friend's name and go to their profile. Your status update may also show up on that friend's Timeline.

… if you or a friend tags someone in your post, the post could be visible to the audience you selected plus friends of the tagged person.

The two phrases that are bolded are the purpose of this article, but we’ll get to that later. 

The Purpose of Tagging

Tagging is meant to identify and mark human connections.  It's supposed to point out a memory individual people share... commonly. 

  1. RULE 1: You SHOULD NOT tag yourself in pictures YOU PERSONALLY are not actually in.  (If you were present for the photo, comment with your name in a tag.)
  2. RULE 2: You SHOULD NOT tag someone else you know in pictures THEY PERSONALLY are not actually in.
  3. RULE 3: You SHOULD NOT tag someone in an event or memory, status update, photo, video description, etc. if it is a memory they do not personally share... e.g. they ARE NOT/WERE NOT present.
  4. RULE 4: You SHOULD NOT use tagging as a means of bringing attention to someone else... e.g. tagging someone in a status update or picture so they will be prompted to see it on log-in.

If you wish to prompt someone to see a post when they sign in, share it personally with them as a message, or tag them IN A COMMENT on the photo, status, or item. 

  • You SHOULD tag yourself in pictures you ARE PERSONALLY in.
  • You SHOULD tag others in pictures THEY ARE PERSONALLY in.
  • You SHOULD tag friends in status updates or descriptions of videos that include them IF THEY ARE PRESENT.



Why does this matter?

  1. #1 "Friendship" / Memories.  Moments of Relationship.
    Let's say for instance that you want to find all the pictures of you and someone else.  Maybe they passed away, or maybe it's their birthday, and you just want to honor them with a picture of you and them.  You can do that EASILY, if you follow proper Facebook tagging etiquette. 
    Go to their Facebook page on a computer.

    Click the dots (...) in the bottom-right corner of their cover photo.  Select "See friendship."  Facebook will show you EVERY SINGLE memory/photo/video/etc. that is in common with you and that.  You can easily remind yourself of the good moments you and your friend or relative shared, despite the current conflict that may exist in your relationship.
    Why does this not work if tagging etiquette isn't followed?
    Because if if rule 1 is broken by the target friend, you will see moments and memories that may have nothing or very little to do with the person who tagged themselves in photos they have nothing or very little to do with!  Garbage to wade through to find what you're looking for. 
    If rule 2 is broken, and person A tagged person B in a photo, and you're trying to find memories in common with person B, the same is true, but it's person A's fault. 
    If rule 3 or 4 is broken, and person A found an awesome recipe for food they wanted to show person B AND you, which none of you may have actually prepared, you will have that recipe and its photos and original post in the timeline of the relationship as well. 
    Think of recipes, articles, news announcements, that actually have nothing to do with the relationship or friendship at all.  I have several friends and family members (hopefully you're all reading this) that I have to go to the "friendship" page and scroll for SEVERAL MINUTES in order to find even 1 photo or memory that we actually share in common.  The rest are recipes, news articles, blog posts, and photos of people's pets that we don't even know.  Some of them are cute, but they have NOTHING to do with our relationship. 
    The picture to the right of this section is actually the “friendship” page of my mother and me.  Because other people tagged her in things, rather than seeing memories we share, the top FIVE items are 1) a recipe for yum yum sauce none of us have ever made, 2) a post someone we don’t know made about a kids toy we don’t have, 3) an article someone thought mom should read, 4) see #3, 5) a video of my adorable niece someone thought mom should watch.  Mom’s Facebook friends’ failure to follow tagging etiquette has made this previously awesome page useless and irrelevant to me.    
    #6 is the first interaction between us – she was trying to show me a link, so now this page is like an inbox.  I have to go down to 15 to see anything else between us.
    Her failure to follow it has made this page an inbox of messages between us, rather than memories we share – a “timeline” of life.  I’ll rest my point here. 
  2. #2 The Personal Presentation of Personality.  The You You Display.

    When you see a picture of a recipe, and you tag me in it, you aren't just showing it to me.  You're showing it to anyone I am connected with, provide their newsfeed is not over-cluttered, at which point Facebook becomes more selective about their posts.  The point of following or linking a relationship on Facebook is to see memories someone else is involved in. 

    Do you really want my boss seeing your recipe for casserole?  Are you trying to get my co-workers or friends to see that cute cat video... or worse... the video you thought was funny of a group of drunk people acting a quarter of their age?  Maybe I don't want others erroneously assuming I was IN the group of drunk people from China you tagged me in because you wanted me to see something you found funny.

    No.  Stop. 
  3. #3 Professionalism.
    Say I'm applying for a job somewhere, and the hiring managers choose to look up my Social Media pages and profiles.  You put your cat videos, recipes, and drunk videos all over my page, simply because you wanted me to see something you thought I would like to see.

    Maybe I DO in fact want to see it.  Maybe the drunk people video is actually hilarious.  Maybe the casserole is delicious, and the meal I've been waiting for all my life.  But maybe Google wants to hire someone that has the IMAGE of technology, and not the image of cat videos.  Maybe that non-profit wants to hire someone who portrays an image consistent with their belief system, not the latest the internet found funny.
  4. #4 Read #1, #2, and #3 again.

In conclusion, I'm not at all saying that I don't want to engage with people on social media, or that others should not engage with people on social media.  I'm merely saying, you should be thoughtful and considerate when you tag yourself or others in photos, status updates, etc.  It isn't "just Facebook," and if you think that way, you're being ignorant of those that may or may not actually DEPEND on social media for personal and working relationships, because they acknowledge that it is a digital representation of real life.



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