While you may find getting tagged in a photo of when you were drunk last night annoying, Facebook thinks such methods are worth protecting, which is why the company filed and received approval of a patent for it.
The patent, called “Tagging digital media,” describes a method which “includes selecting a digital media and selecting region within the digital media.”
Tagging helped Facebook to explode in popularity, which is why they filed for this patent almost five years ago. The patent is extremely broad and, as Erik Sherman points out, isn’t just limited to “the context of a social network.”
While I’ve seen few other services exploit tagging to the level that Facebook has, using such features to grow your own social service could now result in the social network coming after you.
While Facebook hasn’t been excessively aggressive with its existing patents (which includes Friendster’s patents that the company purchased for $40 million), there’s always a chance that they’ll switch tactics.
Whether or not tagging is something that users enjoy, it was probably the most influential feature in contributing to Facebook’s success. Facebook Photos is now by far the largest photo sharing service on the internet and it continues to grow daily. Just last week Facebook rolled out an upgraded version of tagging which includes the ability to tag Pages within photos.
That means brands and things can be tagged in addition to people. While tagging is still a relatively manual process, the company has even experimented with suggested tags through leveraged facial recognition technologies.
Whether or not tagging will remain a critical component of Facebook indefinitely, it has helped Facebook become what it is today which is why the company’s latest patent is well deserved.