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By Helen A.S. Popkin

Facebook privacy settings allow you to limit who sees photos tagged with your name, and you can even prevent your name from showing up in your friends’ photo-tag suggestions. But you can’t opt-out of photo-tagging completely, and you can’t stop third-party applications from tagging your friends’ names on photos on your wall once you’ve accidentally given the apps access.

That privacy setting irritant is providing another inroad for Facebook spammers to infiltrate your profile and seriously annoy your friends.

“In this way, scammers can spread messages and adverts virally across Facebook with a high level of confidence that your friends will see them,” Sophos reports.

Here’s how you get sucked in:

You click the link to the photo album, thinking you’re about to see a photo album of last Saturday’s kegger or the latest adorable adventure involving your BFF’s herd of rescue Frenchies. Instead, it’s something like a photo album full of Olive Garden entrees, tagged with many names of people who also don’t appear in the picture.

It may seem odd — but since you appreciate a never-ending bread bowl, you click the link underneath the photo to find out more. If you click too far, and absent-mindedly agree to giving the rogue application to access your account, your Facebook friends will start receiving notifications that you’ve tagged them in a photo, and the cycle begins again.

It’s not just Olive Garden entrees — and Sophos reports that there’s no reason to believe Olive Garden is behind this scam. “Twilight: Breaking Dawn,” Playboy Bunny-style women and “Check who views your profile” are also among the images adding photo tags.

These scams morph regularly, so it’s best to be careful of any Facebook photos tagged with your name, especially if it’s a random image featuring some kind of product.

If you do get sucked in to the photo-tagging scam, it’s easy to remove the application from accessing your profile.

Here’s what to do:

  • Remove any content the rogue app may have posted on your Facebook wall.
  • Go to the Account Settings drop-down menu in the upper right side of your screen.
  • From the Account Settings drop-down menu, choose Privacy Settings.
  • On the bottom right side of the Privacy Settings Page, click the Apps & websites link “Edit your settings.”
  • On the App page, next to “Apps you use,” select edit settings.
  • There you will see the third-party apps that have access to your Facebook profile. Delete any rogue applications. (It’s a good idea to check this setting regularly, anyway.)
  • Now, send an apology to all your Facebook friends who may have been tagged, and advise them to do the same.

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