We’ve known Facebook was toying with hashtags, possibly because they want to force Twitter off the site, but Facebook being Facebook, we didn’t know when, or if, it was going to happen. Apparently it’ll be starting today! In theory!
Hashtags are, well, if you see the title above, you get the concept. They were invented by Twitter users to make it easier to find stuff back when the site had notoriously terrible search instead of just terrible search, and were rapidly turned into clickable links. And it’s a common gripe on the Internet that people who have their Facebook and Twitter accounts linked will post stuff with hashtags in it.
So, why would Facebook embrace what many users find an annoying fad? We’ll give you one guess:
Initial suppot for hashtags is limited to basic search; you cannot combine hashtags with other Graph Search options. There is also no #advertising support for hashtags yet, though it will be a natural and potentially lucrative product to sell ads against, as we noted when rumors of Facebook hashtags first surfaced in March.
That said, though, Facebook, again being Facebook, is rolling out hashtag support in a spotty, piecemeal way. A few tests on my personal Facebook found that hashtags weren’t clickable, or for that matter searchable. An attempt to search for #hyperbole turned up Hyperbole And A Half’s fan page, which, you know, is great and all but not quite what I was looking for.
Either way, expect hashtags to explode. Until now there’s been no easy way to tag your posts in Facebook, and love them or hate them, they’re a fairly useful and simple tool for doing that. Besides, it could be worse: Facebook could make them mandatory.