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Facebook privacy issue with tagged photos

09 September 2010

Facebook has garnered a rather bad reputation over its privacy controls in recent months, but things are now beginning to stabilise. You can control the privacy of:

With the addition of friend lists it makes it fairly simple to filter content to certain people, as long as you don’t have too many friends.

However, this morning I came across a new issue after speaking with a former colleague. It seems that if you have been tagged in a  friend’s photo album that has its privacy set to “Friends only”, this setting overrides your personal settings regarding visibility of photos and videos you are tagged in.

Imagine a situation where Person A is friends with B & C, but B & C are not friends. If friend B tags you in their photo album that is set to “Friends Only”, Person C will no longer be able to see on Person A’s profile that they’ve been tagged. In previous iterations of facebook Person C would see in Person A’s feed that they had been tagged, and would only be able to view those individual photos that they are tagged in. This makes the “Photos and videos I’m tagged in” privacy setting obsolete if ultimately you cannot control photos you are tagged in.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Go to your privacy settings and set “Photos and videos I’m tagged in” to “Friends Only”.
  2. Find a friend with a photo album whose privacy setting is set to “Friends Only” and tag yourself in a photo.
  3. Ask a separate friend to then check your profile to see if they can see this photo anywhere. They will not be able to.

Whilst I understand that privacy should ultimately lie with the “owner” of the data, I believe this to be a glitch in the system. There is no point in tagging yourself in photo albums of friends or letting yourself be tagged if only you can see them. Facebook is suddenly seeming less social.