Over the last few days, the team at Facebook has announced that they will be launching a hashtag capability similar to that seen on Twitter. This is in response to the public’s call for the popular way of grouping information to be adopted by the popular social networking website by users who are across platforms and are familiar with how hashtags work for Twitter. Support for the hashtag was rumored to have come to a head in March, but nothing had been heard since.
The hashtag as we know it was created in 2007 by avid Twitter user, Chris Messina, a UX designer who works for Google+. Not long after, Twitter decided to officially adopt this system of organizing Tweets by subject in its API and the rest is history. Since then, the hashtag phenomenon has also been adopted by a range of other social networking platforms, including: Flickr, Tumblr, Google+ and even Facebook's own Instagram.
Representatives from Facebook have said that they are looking for ways to make it easier for their users to find content that is already on the social network, and that functional hashtags are only the first step in this becoming reality. They have also said that many users are already posting hashtags regardless of them being unclickable, so making them work wasn't much of a change. Hashtags from other services (like Instagram) will also be clickable.
This new hashtag capability will give Facebook users the ability to:
- Search for a specific hashtag from the search bar (such as #NBAFinals);
- Click on hashtags that originate from other services; and
- Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
"To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what's happening or what people are talking about," says Greg Linley of Facebook, "To bring these conversations to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the more interesting discussions people are having about public events, people and topics." On Wednesday, hashtags were rolled out to a small group of users with access expanding over the coming months.