The “hashtag”, which has come to be synonymous with Twitter, is to be adopted by Facebook according to an announcement on Wednesday.
Facebook will be rolling out this new feature in a move to help its users and advertisers channel discussions around specific events and topics.
The “hashtag” feature encourages users to open their conversations with people who are not necessarily classes as “friends” on Facebook. This should encourage more revenue.
Justin Osofsky, director, platform partnerships and operations at Facebook said in a blog posted on Wednesday, “Between 88 and 100 million Americans log in to Facebook every night during prime time TV hours, which represents a significant opportunity for broadcasters, advertisers and our other partners. A recent episode of the Game of Thrones series on HBO generated 1.5 million mentions on Facebook”.
In a seperate blog Facebook said, “To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about. To bring these conversations more to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics. As a first step, we are beginning to roll out hashtags on Facebook.”
Currently Facebook users can control their settings, meaning that they can set their posts to be seen only by friends. This is different to Twitter, where tweets are public and viewable to all users. Facebook have stated that their same control settings will apply to the new hashtag feature as well, the users can decide whether to make their hashtags viewable by their friends only, or share individual posts with a wider circle of users.
The hashtag feature will be available to roughly 20 percent of users initially, while everyone else can expect to see it over the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see if it is as popular on Facebook as it is for their rival Twitter.
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