Facebook Photo Tagging And Your Privacy: What You Need to Know to Get It Right

Facebook privacy is a tricky thing.

On the one hand, you want to make yourself super accessible, so that new friends can find you and you can expand your network.

On the other hand, though, you want your privacy – and sometimes, Facebook’s interest in learning about you can be a liiiiittle on the creepy side.


Case in point? Tagging. Tagging users and pages in photos and status updates creates pathways, whether you want it to or not. And because there are so many different rules for how tags work – and so many differences between how it works for a person and how it works for a page – it can be tough to make sure that you’re doing it right.

So right now, I’m taking a closer look at the ins and outs of tagging photos on Facebook. You might remember that back in April I showed you the different ways to tag people and pages in your status updates, but photos work a little differently, and understanding those differences can make using Facebook (and avoiding the creep factor) a LOT easier.

Facebook Tagging and your Privacy - What you need to know to get it right - Meet Edgar

Here’s what you need to know:

1. A page can be tagged by anyone and anything. A PERSON can only be tagged by a person.

You know how there are like, a million differences between a Facebook profile and a Facebook page? (Brush up here if you need to.) Well, your tagging capabilities are a BIG one.

On Facebook, a person’s profile can tag any other person or any page (depending on that page’s category, but don’t worry about that right now). You could upload a picture and tag your mom as Beyoncé if you wanted – Bey won’t care.

A PAGE, on the other hand, doesn’t have nearly that kind of freedom. For one thing,a page can’t tag a person’s profile – not in status updates, not in photos, not in jack diddly. It can tag other pages, but that’s it. And really, this is for the best – the last thing anyone wants is to start getting tagged randomly by Coca-Cola or Banana Republic or whatever.

Pretty much your only option for tagging a person in a Facebook page’s photo is to do it under your own name. When you’re logged in to the Facebook profile that is an admin on your Facebook page, you can tag someone in one of that page’s photos, but only if that person is friends with your personal profile.

(Um, in English, please?)

Think of it this way. I have a personal Facebook profile, and I also have the LKR page– my Laura Roeder profile is an admin for the LKR page. LKR can’t tag any profiles in anything it uploads. My Laura Roeder profile can tag LKR’s photos, but it can only tag Laura Roeder’s personal friends – NOT fans of the LKR page or anyone else.

Facebook Photo Tagging

That’s why if you have a picture on your page with you and a fan, your page can’t tag that person – only your profile can, and only if your profile is friends with the person you want to tag.

“Well that’s okay – that person could just go ahead and tag themselves, right?” Well, maybe! That all comes down to the next big thing you should know:

2. You control whether or not people can tag the photos your Facebook page uploads.

Despite Facebook’s somewhat-deserved reputation for creepiness, it actually gives you a totally decent level of privacy control, even for pages. Case in point? Nobody can tag a single picture on your Facebook page unless you want them to.

On your page, go to Settings, and under the General tab, you have this option:

Facebook page settings

It’s a simple yes-or-no question – you can choose either to allow non-admins (ie, fans) to tag photos, or to keep all the tagging in-house. (As you can see, I go with the latter.)

Whether or not you allow other people to tag your page’s photos is up to you, but generally, the more control you have over what’s on your own page, the better.

And speaking of the things that show up on your own page, there’s another big difference between pictures tagged by profiles and those tagged by pages:

3. Your Facebook page doesn’t aggregate photos that it’s been tagged in.

When you’re looking at your Facebook profile and you go to Photos, it lists all of your different albums, including things like Profile Pictures, Cover Photos, and most importantly, Photos of You. That last one is where photos in which you are tagged get aggregated.

Your Facebook PAGE, however, doesn’t have one of those.

It still has the usual albums, sure, but it doesn’t have that Photos of You category. This means that even though other people can tag your page in their pictures, those pictures don’t show up anywhere on your page. That’s why you can tag all those pictures of your mom as Beyoncé – they’re not gonna show up on Bey’s Facebook page!

So while it may make you a teensy bit nervous to think that people could be out there tagging your page in random photos without your consent, don’t worry – your fans aren’t likely to see those pictures anyway, unless they’re friends with whoever is posting them.

Now, there isn’t much else to know about tagging from your page, or even having your page tagged by someone else. But what about when you tag someone else from your own personal profile? Well…

4. Even if you tag someone’s profile, that tag might not show up – and it might go away.

Nobody on Facebook – NOBODY – can outright prevent themselves from being tagged. Period. Profiles, pages, no one is safe.

But that doesn’t mean that tags always show up, or that they always last.

So if someone tags your profile in a Facebook photo (and remember that ANYONE can, even people you aren’t friends with), that’s going to show up on your timeline. And if YOU tag a person’s profile in a photo, it’s going to show up on THEIR timeline.

Unless, of course, one of two things happens.

The first is that the person being tagged can choose to hide photos in which they are tagged from their timeline. So if your little cousin keeps tagging you in goofy Internet memes that you don’t want clogging your timeline, you can choose to hide them from your timeline, so people looking at your profile don’t see them.

That doesn’t stop the tagged photo from existing on Facebook, though – it just makes it so that people don’t see it on your actual profile. That’s why the second thing that someone can do is to actually remove the tag. Facebook wants you to have control over your own online image, so if you get tagged in something and want that tag removed – an embarrassing baby picture that your auntie uploaded, for example – you can delete the tag. The photo will still exist, but it won’t be linked directly to you.

So if you could have *sworn* that you had tagged somebody in a picture (or twenty), and the tags are now mysteriously missing, it isn’t your fault – it’s just that they saw the tags and removed them.

[Tweet “So whether you’re using Facebook under your profile or under your company’s page, remember – tag responsibly!”]

Like I said, using Facebook requires everyone to walk a fine line between putting yourself out there and leaving yourself vulnerable. Now that you understand the different ways of tagging profiles and pages in photos – and your limitations for each – it should be a whole heckuva lot easier to avoid overstepping any bounds AND to protect your online image! (Get it? Your online image? Okay, I’m not proud of that one.)

So here’s a question: do you allow other users to tag the photos your business posts on Facebook? I already told you how I feel about it, but I’d love to know your opinions! Had any good (or bad) luck with giving other people the power to tag on your page? Hit up the comments below!

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Facebook Photo Tagging And Your Privacy: What You Need to Know to Get It Right
Facebook privacy is a tricky thing. In this post you will find what you need to know bout Facebook photo tagging and your privacy.
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Meet Edgar
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  • Super helpful post! Thanks! I don’t see the advantage to letting fans tag our photos other than an increase in engagement. I actually haven’t found that fans are requesting to do that or seem to want to, so I think we’re good. Thanks for distilling all the tagging info!

  • Laurie

    Why is it when I tag just one person on a picture in a an album shared only to friends, it doesn’t appear to the public. Once I tag multiple people, it’s no longer private & appears to the public even in if in a friends only album?

    • Tom | Team Edgar

      Hi Laurie! When you tag people, the audience for that picture may expand to include people outside of that album’s normal audience. (That’s something you can learn more about right here.)

  • David Abraham

    Hey Laurie,

    So, like you, I have my regular Facebook account AND a band/music/business page. I had uploaded an album to my music page, and through my regular account, tagged myself, along with my bandmates. That’s pretty straight forward.

    However, via my regular profile, if I go to the “Photos of You” section, I see the pic that I tagged myself in, but cannot make it the profile pic for my regular account. It only gives me the option to make it the profile pic for my music page, or for the album cover.

    I remember we used to be able to do this without any hassle. Any tips on how I can make this tagged pic (off my music page) the profile pic of my regular account (so that I do not lose the likes, comments, etc.)?

    • Tom VanBuren

      You’re right – when a photo is posted to another person’s Facebook profile and you’re tagged in that photo, you can very easily make that photo your new profile picture. It that photo is posted to a page, on the other hand, it’s not quite so simple!
      While you can’t make that photo your new profile picture *from the photo*, you do have an option: Go to your Facebook profile, and hover over your profile picture so that you can click “Update Profile Picture.” This will bring up a box that includes photos you’re tagged in, and the photo from your page should be there, too!

      • David Abraham

        Wow, that’s just such a simple & easy solution! I feel like an idiot for not figuring it out myself. Thanks a lot, Tom! Much appreciated!

        • Tom VanBuren

          You got it!