How to Tag Someone on Facebook

By: Nathan Chandler  | 
Screenshot of Facebook page for publishing user photos.
Photo tagging is a great way to identify folks in images. But if you have dozens of people in those pictures, the chore of tagging may leave you wishing you had fewer friends.
Screenshot by Nathan Chandler

Without photos, Facebook would likely have been a passing internet phase, relegated to a dusty corner of the web where text-based websites go to die. But photos are everywhere on Facebook, making it one of the largest database of pictures on the web.

Since everyone on your friends list loves to see photos posted, you might wish to learn how to tag someone on Facebook. In this article, we'll explain how Facebook tagging works. We'll also delve into the social media platform's facial recognition software and its limitations.


Keep reading and you'll see more about how this kind of advanced software can benefit your Facebook life, and how you can best keep it under your control.

How to Tag People on a Facebook Post

Photo tagging is a major reason that Facebook pictures are so popular. Tagging basically means that after you upload a picture of your friends at a party, you click their faces, one by one, and type their names in the Who Is This? box to identify who is who in the image. Months or years later, this clickable link feature makes it very easy to find every photo featuring, say, your friend Brianna.

But tagging people can be laborious, especially if there are a lot of friends in each picture. In part to make this process quicker and easier, Facebook introduced Tag Suggestions in early 2011.


Whenever Facebook offers up an image for you to tag, Tag Suggestions automatically fills that troublesome Who Is This? box with its best guess as to who the person might be. The site can do this thanks to the power of facial recognition technology, but more on that later.

Tagging and Untagging Pictures for Facebook

Screenshot of Facebook software determining identity of people in photos.
With Tag Suggestion, you don’t even have to find the faces. Facebook automatically pinpoints human faces and prompts you to name them.
Screenshot by Nathan Chandler

Photo tagging is a bit like a childhood game of tag. You race around in your image collection, tagging as many of your friends as quickly as possible. Only on Facebook, this isn't so much a game as it is a part-time job. That doesn't stop people from doing it. Photo tagging is hugely popular, at around 100 million new tags each day [SOURCE: Facebook].

After you upload a series of photos, Facebook loads the Edit Photos page. Here, you can type descriptions (captions) for each image, choose a photo for the album cover, delete individual images, move pictures to various albums, and create a visual timeline of your social life. Plus, of course, you can tag people in photos.


To tag an image, you simply click the person's face, and then begin typing his or her name. To expedite this task, Facebook begins guessing what you're typing, which makes tagging go much more quickly.

If you use Tag Suggestions, your tagging job is even easier. After you upload a picture, Facebook immediately loads the Who's In These Photos? page, and highlights any faces that appear in the pictures. In this page's settings, you simply begin typing the person's name, and if you're friends with that person on Facebook, the site auto-completes the name — not only for that picture, but for any others in which that person appears.


Tag Review: Do Your Friends Want That Photo to Be Public?

Tagging a friend sends them a notification so that they know there's a new image of them online. They also have the option of untagging the picture so that their account isn't associated with the image.

Of course, if the picture is embarrassing, they can't remove it — a major drawback to the public nature of Facebook. (They can, however, request its removal if it infringes on their privacy.) But by being nice to your friends and choosing to leave humiliating pictures offline to begin with, you'll keep a lot more friends and spare yourself from any acts of online (or perhaps offline) vengeance.


If a friend tags you in a photo and you want to remove the tag, you can. In your account profile, click photos, and scroll down to see the section titled Photos and Videos of You. Click a picture with you in it, and below the image, click Remove Tag.

When it comes to pictures of you, you may want to disable Tag Suggestions altogether. To do so, from the Account drop-down menu, click Privacy Settings, click Customize Settings. Go to Things Others Share and next to Suggest Photos of Me to Friends, click Edit Settings, and click Disabled.

Those are the fine points of using Tag Suggestions. On the next page, you'll read more about this technology that helps Facebook put names to faces.


Facebook Face Recognition

Portrait of young man with his jaw dropped open.
Changes in facial expression are just one variable that can totally confuse automatic recognition technologies – and your mother, too.

Facial recognition technology is anything but new. Law enforcement agencies have been using these kinds of systems for years to build searchable image databases of known and suspected criminals and terrorists.

Facebook hasn't made public any details regarding the developer behind its recognition tool. But it's safe to say that this capability is similar to those in other consumer programs, such as Windows Live Photo Gallery, iPhoto, and Picasa, all of which have handy facial recognition features.


If you've used a point-and-shoot digital camera made in the past few years, you may have seen facial recognition technology at work. Many current cameras highlight faces using boxes, which indicate that the auto-focus is keeping those faces sharp and crisp. That's facial recognition at work.

Similarly, when you upload a picture, the Tag Suggestion feature finds faces in your pictures. Then it highlights those pictures and immediately prompts you to type a name. Suggested tags work only within your list of closer friends and not friends of friends.


How Facial Recognition Software Works

To work their magic, facial recognition software relies on complicated algorithms driven by hardcore mathematics and clever programming. The application analyzes each image for specific characteristics, such as pixel values or gradients (the way images transition from dark to light areas), and other numerically precise data.

Then it makes (often very accurate) guesses as to which parts of the image corresponds to a human face. That part of the technology is pretty dependable. Matching a name consistently to the correct face is trickier. That's because variables such as lighting, facial hair, and facial expressions can fool the software. This is evident in Facebook when Tag Suggestions confuses your friends and suggests the wrong names.


For privacy-minded people, the implications of this technology are scary. It isn't impossible to imagine a total stranger taking a photo of you from afar, entering that image into a search engine, and within minutes, knowing who you are, where you live, and a whole lot of other information you'd rather not disclose.

Status Update: No More Facial Recognition Software

Fortunately, in recent years, Facebook has embarked on a significant course correction concerning its use of facial recognition technology. Reacting to a crescendo of privacy concerns and tightening regulatory frameworks, the tech giant initiated a series of policy reforms aimed at empowering users. These included transitioning the facial recognition feature to an opt-in model in selected regions, thereby granting users greater sovereignty over their biometric data.

However, the most striking measure came in late 2021 when Meta (Facebook's parent company) announced the discontinuation of its facial recognition system, committing to erase the faceprints of over a billion users. This decision underscored a radical shift in the company's stance on digital identity and privacy, signaling a move towards more responsible data practices in the face of global scrutiny.


Promote Safety on Your Facebook App

Photos can increase engagement to your new post and lead to a flurry of activity in your comment section, but be sure to keep your guard up.

Stay up-to-date on the seemingly endless changes Facebook administrators make to both tagging and privacy settings, and always keep questionable images off the internet entirely. Doing so will keep you ahead in the game of Facebook fun and keep you safer, too.


This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

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