File Under: Multimedia, Social

Flickr Adds People-Tagging for Finding Friends in Photos

Popular photo sharing service Flickr added a new feature Wednesday that lets users tag each other in photos. In addition, Flickr has updated its privacy controls, so users can opt out of being personally identified in individual photos.

The new feature lets you tag particular people in pictures by drawing bounding boxes around their faces. Flickr then asks you to ID each person, and if the person is a Flickr member, the system suggests the member’s name to you as you type the tag.

Once people are tagged, it makes finding them in searches much easier. Instead of searching for somebody’s name and only seeing photos blindly tagged with your search term, Flickr now shows you where that person is located inside the photo — especially helpful if you’re looking at a group shot.

Flickr has over 40 million members according to Yahoo, which owns the service.

People-tagging features have long been available to users of other photo-sharing web services like Facebook and Google’s Picasa. And Flickr’s new feature doesn’t go as far as Picasa, which will actually find the person’s face in the picture and take a guess at who it is. Google debuted this technology in 2008 and enhanced its capabilities just last month.

But while Flickr’s new people tags are close to what you’ll find elsewhere, Flickr’s implementation offers more user controls for privacy by letting you opt out of being ID’d.

As Facebook users know, you often get tagged in a photo that you didn’t approve of, isn’t particular flattering or shows you in a, shall we say, “compromising position.” But once you’re tagged in a picture on Facebook, that photo with you in it gets tied to your profile. It shows up in image searches, whether you want it to appear or not.

Flickr’s new face-tagging system lets users opt out of being tagged in individual photos. So, you can pretend that’s not really you holding that bong or shotgunning that can of PBR. You can also set your preferences so you can never be tagged in a photo, or you can determine which users are allowed to tag you and which users aren’t. You can also opt out of the whole face-tagging system in general.

Non-Flickr members can be identified in photos as well, but they’ll need to approve the ID before it appears within the system.

That won’t stop users from adding your name as a tag on the photo. Users can also draw a box around your face and add your name as a note. But neither of those options physically connect the tag to your Flickr account the way the people-tagging feature does. Instead, it’s just another piece of metadata attached to the photo.

For those who want to play along, just watch your Recent Activity page. Every time you’re tagged in a picture, you’ll see a little notifier in your Recent Activity stream telling you who tagged you, and offering a link to the picture.

Once a photo is tagged up with people, the photo page displays a list of all the people identified within the picture, along with links to their Flickr profiles.

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