Not sure if I missed this new feature on Facebook due to my focus on the Page (Business/Fan) changes that launched on 3/11/11 or perhaps it was buried in some secret memo, but I happened to stumble across a new tagging capability this week. I’m not sure what my feelings about it are at this point, since this is fresh news for me, but as always, I see both the positive and negative sides to the application.
Facebook users now (eff. 3/11/11) have the ability to use Tagging within comments and not just Status Updates on Profile or Page Walls. Tagging allows you to bring up a list of your direct contacts (friends), Events, Pages, Groups and Apps by using the “@” sign. There is still a limit of six tags to an update or comment and the tags are hyperlinked to the actual Profile, Page, etc. where your “privacy” settings determine what others can see (to a point).
In the social/digital community that I exist in, my friends and colleagues have known for years that there is no such thing as privacy on the web. This new capability should help to really underscore that truism. As a purveyor of social networking sites, social graphs and their culminating social currency and having been raised in the marketing giant world of Procter & Gamble, I totally understand why enabling others to join a conversation is crucial to the spread of the message and the fostering of increased interaction.
But there can be a dark side to this capability. Let’s examine a negative use scenario:
Let’s say Rick is venting about his ex, or boss or neighbor in a Facebook status update and his Facebook Friend Joe thinks it would be funny/malicious to comment on Rick’s post and Tag the ‘vented-about person’ into his comment due to his Friend connection with them. Rick is not friends on Facebook with the person he is venting about, but Joe is, and due to their connection with each other all three parties come together in one moment of potential fire-works.
As more and more companies (and divorce attorneys!) search for information about potential hires or employees online, then we can clearly see how tagging could be used to someone’s detriment.
As a parent and advocate of raising Digitally Responsible Teens, it has been my personal passion to help educate parents, kids and school administrators on social networking safety and reputation management. Some teens abuse online networking sites and use them as bully pulpits to tear down other teens, often anonymously. Just delve into the postings that go on at Formspring.Me. Some of the things I have seen posted there about other kids go far beyond teasing and enter the realm of bullying and slander. Tagging will be added to my discussion points as I bring my Social Networking Safety/Reputation Management Program for Teens to area parents and schools.
So just a word to the wise, know that everything you say on Facebook can potentially be seen by anyone in the world……