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Summary:

Ready for some #social #disruption? Reports from the Wall Street Journal and AllThingsD indicate that Facebook is considering adopting the hashtag on its platform, which would help users organize content around particular topics and give advertisers more opportunities.

Twitter’s now-iconic hashtag could be taking flight and it may start appearing on Facebook, the Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday afternoon. The move to start taking advantage of the hashtag, a symbol that users are starting to recognize across the web, could help Facebook build on the idea of organizing content by topic and give advertisers new opportunities.

By organizing content through hashtags, Facebook could allow advertisers to specifically target discussions on the site, as Mike Isaac explains further for AllThingsD, which would make sense from a platform perspective. But it would be a strong acknowledgement on Facebook’s part that Twitter has developed a dominant social strategy, which would be especially interesting.

Facebook announced news feed and Timeline redesigns within the last week that have focused strongly on content like news articles or music or book suggestions. The addition of the hashtag could fit in with this strategy and help people congregate around particular discussions and group more content into these areas. Although how exactly the company would roll out an official hashtag feature or integrate it into the platform is anyone’s guess right now.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors. Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The hashtag originated on Twitter after users wanted to organize their topics more clearly on the site, which we wrote about in 2010:

“On August 23, 2007, the Twitter hashtag was born. Invented by Chris Messina (then with the consulting firm Citizen Agency, now an open web advocate for Google), the first tweet with a hashtag read as follows: “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”

Today, hashtags make tweets more meaningful and findable, traits that many users appreciate. No conference or speech is complete without a hashtag these days, binding together the ad-hoc community of observers and their pithy comments and memorable quotes.”

The primary reason it would make sense for Facebook to adopt hashtags lies with advertising. Advertisers want to pay for their products or offerings to show up around searches and information that show intent on the part of the user. So if you search for #SuperBowl on Facebook, advertisers would know that you were at least interested in football or watching the Super Bowl or purchasing snacks to eat during the Super Bowl, and therefore might be especially interested in those products. While Twitter’s discovery options have struggled slightly, the use of hashtags to categorize content for advertisers has been more of a success and makes sense that Facebook would want to adopt.

  1. Martin Bergstrom Thursday, March 14, 2013

    I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of hashtags on facebook. I actually like them on twitter as a way to track and organize content, but I feel that it could get extremely annoying very quickly on facebook. Hopefully facebook staff will develop a better ranking algorithm (especially if it is tailored to invdividual users) for all posts using a certain hashtag. If they develop a solid algorithm, I think hashtags on facebook could be an interesting addition that will improve the facebook experience. If not, I’m afraid I will be inundated with a mass of barely relevant drivel whenever I search a hashtagged subject.

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