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Facebook to let users preapprove photo tags

Social network makes other changes to answer concerns about privacy

By Barbara Ortutay
Associated Press / August 24, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO - Drunken revelers rejoice: Facebook will now let you decide whether your friends can attach your name to a photo before it is circulated.

Currently, your friends can add your name to a photo on Facebook without your consent or knowledge. You can remove it later, but only after lots of others may have seen the embarrassing shots. Now, you can insist on preapproval.

This won’t affect whether your friends can add a photo of you, only whether your name is attached to it. Still, not having the name, known as a tag, can make it more difficult for people to find a potentially embarrassing photo in a search.

Facebook said yesterday that the change is in response to user requests. Preapproving photo tags has been the most requested change, said Kate O’Neill, product manager for Facebook. The process will also apply to written posts that others tag you in. In addition, you have the option of preapproving what others tag on your own photos and posts.

The company is making other changes to its privacy controls, too. These changes won’t affect what information will be made public or private. Rather, they will affect how users can control what they are sharing in an effort to make the process simpler.

“We are making it easier for people to share what they want, every time [they] post,’’ O’Neill said.

The changes will be rolled out starting tomorrow.

Facebook has long been trying to simplify its privacy settings, which have many moving parts and have confused a lot of users. That confusion partly results from Facebook’s efforts to let users apply different privacy settings to different parts of their profile on the site. But the company has also come under fire for pushing users toward disclosing more about their interests to the public.

Among the latest changes:

■Instead of going to a separate settings page, privacy controls will be on users’ profile pages.

■Instead of calling public posts visible to “everyone,’’ Facebook will now simply call these “public.’’

■Facebook is also making a feature called “view profile as’’ more prominent. This lets you type in the name of another Facebook user and see how your profile looks to that person.

■In a nod to Google Plus, the online search leader’s fledgling social network, Facebook is making it easier to share posts with specific groups of people.

■You will now be able to tag anyone on Facebook, even if you are not friends with them. They will have to approve your request to tag, though, before the photo or post shows up on their profile.