It's no $2 billion purchase of a virtual-reality gaming company, but the update will have an impact on Twitter's 241 million users who post to the service each month.
The change lets you tag up to 10 people in one photo. Previously, you could work around Twitter's lack of image tags by just mentioning people from the photo in the tweet itself. But with precious few characters to work with, that could gobble up a lot of tweet real estate, especially if you were taking crowded group selfies.
Image tagging is not an original idea. Facebook has offered photo tagging features for a long time and Instagram added its own photo-tagging option last year.
Twitter also is now making it possible to pack more images into messages with a new collage option that lets you share up to four photos in a single tweet. Select the images and it will tile them into a neat rectangle. Previously you would need a third-party app to make a collage.
These are just the latest features to make the jump between major social networks, which happily borrow the most popular aspects of competing services. Last summer, Facebook copied one of Twitter's best features when it added clickable hashtags to its newsfeed, and it tried to clone Snapchat with its Poke application. When Twitter added short, 6-second videos with its Vine service, Instagram quickly followed suit with 15-second videos.
The new Twitter image tags won't count against a tweet's 140-character limit. Any tagged images will pop up under the Interactions tab, just like regular tweets in which you are mentioned.
Twitter is rolling out the new features to users starting with its Android and iPhone apps. Once you have the new powers, you can start identifying friends in images by selecting an image and then hitting the "who's in this photo?" link below it.
If you're not comfortable being tagged in images, immediately take a trip to the Twitter privacy settings. The default setting for the photo tagging is "Allow anyone to tag me in photos." It can be changed so that only people you already follow can tag you, or it can be turned off completely. It's also easy to untag yourself from any photos. Tap the three dots below the tweet and select "Remove tag from photo."
People who have their Twitter accounts set to private can only tag people who follow them, and the default privacy setting for protected accounts is to not allow people to tag them in images at all. If you've blocked someone on Twitter, they cannot tag you.
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