Round-Trip Photo Tagging with Facebook

I just launched round-trip tagging on, and as far as I can tell, I’m the first developer to come out with this feature.

It works the same way as Apple’s implementation in the upcoming iLife ’09 release, scheduled for the end of January.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The user clicks on ‘Share with Facebook’ on any of the gallery pages.
  2. If the user has not yet added the 944 Facebook application, they are prompted to do so. Then the user is taken back to the photo page, and the photo is added with an AJAX call. If there is an existing ‘944 Events’ album, it puts it in there by default, otherwise it creates a new album with that name.
  3. The user is then given a link to the album (since all photos uploaded with the API go into a pending status, unless the photo_upload extended permission is set), as well as a link to adding this extended permissions to bypass this approval process in the future (and also allow me to sync the tags from to Facebook).
  4. I set up a cron job to run every hour to get the list of tags from the Facebook photo that I uploaded through the API, and add any new tags to the photos on This is where you have to use the infinite session key that I wrote a how-to for a few days ago.
  5. At the same time, any new tags made on are also added to Facebook, checking to see if the tagged person is also a friend of the person who added the photo to Facebook, and if not the tag is added as a non-Facebook account (just the person’s name).
  6. Any photos which are deleted on Facebook are set to inactive on the local database so as not to needlessly flood the Facebook servers.

This is the quick run-through, actually implementing everything was a mixture of JavaScript and a customized PHP Facebook library to use the API. All-in-all it seems to be working flawlessly, time for some stress testing! With over 638,000 photos in our galleries, I envision a lot of tagging in the near future.

And yes, this does potentially mean fewer pageviews on, but the photos that are uploaded are watermarked, and the potential reach of posting natively into Facebook albums far outweighs any negative aspects.

I’ll report back in a week or so when I see how much this has improved our Facebook referral traffic, as well as direct traffic (from the watermark in the corners) — it’s already been climbing exponentially since introducing tagging via Facebook Connect and automatically posting a linked thumbnail of the photo to taggers’ walls.

Posted: January 21, 2009


  1. 2009.01.22 @ 18:01 Emmanuel Crouvisier

    Here’s a link to the blog post I just made, at, including a video walk-through:

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