Sunday, June 12

Autotag Away

It's no secret that I hate Facebook. And more than Facebook, I hate the incessant need for some people on the social networking site to upload and record their whole lives via photos. It may, then, be quite surprising that I am actually in favour of this whole new auto-tagging feature Facebook has introduced. Let me explain.

Although I dislike what I call the "social networking vomit" most online interaction ends in, I can't really complain about how others choose to represent themselves and their ideas online. It's their decision to be as promiscuous or private, deep or shallow and vain and modest as they like. If I have a problem with them then solution is both easy and in my hands - I can delete, mute or unfollow them and so everyone is happy.

Photos however can sometimes be different since often those of that super special event that the whole world must know you attended will include the image of someone other than they who are uploading the photo. In other words, the vomit is now affecting others.

Manual tagging was usually the only way I and many others would ever find out that a photo of ourselves had been uploaded. More often than not it didn't take more than a polite request to have these pictures removed, although sometimes major offence can be taken for some reason.

But as Facebook becomes more complicated and the rate of content generation grows, the quality of maintenance reduces - so people now forget or omit tagging, sometimes deliberately in order to avoid the complaints of those in the photos.

Autotag solves a lot of these problems - you now allow the computer to figure out who the people in the photos are for you. In fact the way in which this is optional in my mind makes it a little flawed, since becomes a bit of an unknown quantity, a false sense of security.

In terms of privacy, nothing really has changed here. Inconsiderate friends will still trounce on the privacy of their friends in order to play the cyber-peacock. And of course autotagged people will still be able to remove their tags if they want to keep certain photos off the search path. And finally you can't use the system maliciously - the system will only suggest photos of your friends, so you can't use it to identify some hot girl at a wedding. You'll still have to grow a pair to do that I'm afraid.

If Facebook is giving me the chance to be notified of when a friend has decided to unilaterally violate my privacy then I'm all for it really. It's certainly not violating the rights of my friend; and even if they think it is they only have themselves to blame by so easily clicking that upload button in the first place.

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