As a feature Facebook photo tagging is innovative and useful, for sure. Is it game-able?
Sam Lessin warns of a Facebook hack using the photo tagging feature:
“People have begun to upload a photo of something they wish to promote (perhaps a candidate or event) and then ‘tag’ as many ‘influential’ friends as they can into the image.”
Longtime Facebookers have probably seen this countless times from trickster friends. But they were never looking to gain anything from tagging you as the talons of an eagle.
The tag then enters in the news feed and the friends of the tagged click to view the picture. Free advertising.
Facebook has some tools in place to counteract inappropriate tagging. Those who are tagged can remove the tag from the photo. Anyone can report the photo. Perhaps the best way to avoid these spammings is in the left column of the offender’s profile, all the way down on the bottom: “Remove from friends.”
The hurdles to standard email spam are low. All you need are email addresses and there’s little, outside of filters, to stop your message from being seen.
Spamming on social networks, like the photo tagging that Lessin describes, has a larger hurdle. First of all, the spammer has to become friends with many influential friends. Then, the spammer has to maintain those friendships despite transgressions.
A problem arises when people no longer apply a barrier to friendship, when those influential friends aren’t really friends. That is combated with a similar method: remove the influential friend.
Unlike unsolicited email, there is a social barrier protecting Facebook spam from becoming widespread. We just have to use the tools.