Declaring war against Twitter, Facebook has now introduced hashtags, the symbol most identified with and popularised by its main rival.
Facebook users can now affix the hashtag symbol (#) to words in status updates on their timelines. Similar hashtags will then be grouped together and by clicking or searching for a particular hashtag, all posts with related topics will come up. The “trends” function on Twitter works in a similar manner.
With Facebook’s hashtags, similar posts from your friends will be displayed first on the list if a certain hashtag is searched, followed by those that are most recent and shared publicly.
Facebook’s Product Manager for Hashtags Greg Lindley said in a blog post: “To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about…Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations.”
The recent move will likely strengthen real-time public conversations within the network. Facebook realised that topics mentioned in posts could have also “trended” the same way as they did on Twitter. In fact, the “Red Wedding” episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones has been mentioned 1.5 million times on users’ timelines. This is significant as competition heats up between services for advertisement money related to live events.
Aside from Twitter, Google+ and photo sharing app Instagram (which Facebook acquired last year) have already incorporated hashtags.