Today Facebook edged in on Twitter’s territory, and began supporting the use of searchable hashtags in order to help sort conversations by topic. Hashtags will be clickable, bringing up a feed of other posts by people and pages that used the same tag, and will better support links coming from social networks that use hashtags already.
The announcement from Facebook cites the millions of people who discuss topics at the same time, and how valuable hashtags will be to organize and categorize Facebook posts. “The recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show,” the news update by Greg Lindley proclaimed. “To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.” (Sure, 5.2 million is the number of people who watch Game of Thrones, and they all do so legally on HBO.)
Facebook is catching up to Twitter as well as Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, but Facebook’s approach to social networking and its users are both very different. A tagged Facebook post you only shared with your friends will be kept invisible from the public. It remains to be seen how well hashtags will interact with the nebulous semi-privacy of Facebook’s network of friends, and though it can be handy to distinguish what your friends are saying about something from millions of strangers’ comments on a social network, Facebook’s definition of ‘friend’ often includes people you don’t want in your discussions.
As TechCrunch points out, this effectively makes Twitter’s hashtag-based marketing far less effective by generalizing the concept of hashtags. Instead of acting as a beacon to go to Twitter to look up a trending term and get in on the conversation, the hashtag could become a generic standard for categorizing posts on social networks.
Facebook has said that hashtags will not be fully functional for all users for several weeks, so it may take some time to see how the new user experience measures up and whether they become a fixture of Facebook’s culture.
(via The Verge)
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