Dear Facebook friend: Don’t expect me to manage your online privacy for you

Cynthia CloskeyGeneral, Social media

There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to Facebook notifying you that a friend has tagged you in a photo with your ex- from three relationships ago with the caption “True love 4evah!”  Or perhaps you’ve been tagged in the comments of a post that’s become uncomfortably political.  Or maybe your friend’s recent post to your timeline is an obvious advertisement for cosmetics.  Or deeply discounted airline tickets.  Or a free iPhone 5.  

Your immediate reaction may be to contact your friends and request that they untag you from their content.  If you’re unwillingly tagged in content, that is a breech of your online privacy and your friends should respect your privacy, right?

Well yes, your friends should respect your privacy, but you shouldn’t expect them to manage your online privacy.  Facebook is a social media site and your friends’ ideas of what is appropriate to share may completely different that yours.  Expecting your Facebook friends to change their settings to fit to your privacy policy is like asking them to pull down your house blinds or lock your car doors for you.  If you continue to demand untags as you add friends, you may start to sound like a certain ineffectual, jerky boss from a certain office-themed movie starring a red Swingline stapler. 

The reality is that you are in charge of your Facebook privacy.  It’s best to untag yourself from unwanted content, and while you can do this on individual photos and posts, it makes more sense to revamp your privacy settings and preemptively block unwanted tagging.

The beginning of the year is a good time to update those Facebook settings, but as Facebook is famous for sweeping privacy rule changes, it’s a good idea to keep current on all privacy changes and update your settings regularly.  Here are some quick instructions for untagging yourself from unwanted content.

 Untag yourself from photos

  1. Once you are logged into Facebook, click on Photos under your Favorites.
  2. Click on “Photos of You.”
  3. Click on the offending photo and then click on the “Edit or Remove” icon.
  4. Click “Hide from my timeline” if you don’t want this photo to appear in your timeline
  5. Click “Report/Remove Tag” to see untag options.  You can either select “I want to untag myself” or “I want this photo removed from Facebook”.
  6. If you choose “I want this photo removed from Facebook” your FB friend will be notified via a message.  (That’s when you find out how good a friend they are.  If they refuse to remove, you can get FB involved in removing the content.


To turn off tagging from your profile

  1. From Facebook home, click the “Privacy Shortcuts” lock icon.
  2. Click “See More Settings” to see all settings.  
  3. In the left hand navigation choose the “Time Line and Tagging” option
  4. Review the options here an turn on/off the features that are important to you.  Note that you can choose to review all posts your friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline. 
  5. To permanently prevent unwanted photo tagging, choose “No One” under the “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded.” option.