Facebook is setting itself up to introduce the hashtag to status posts, per a press release from the company Wednesday. The company acknowledges that the feature is “similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest,” and will in fact integrate with the hashtags used on Instagram.
Prior to this move, hashtags on Facebook had little purpose other than to mock the feature so often used on Twitter and Instagram to categorize posts into a single, thematic feed. Facebook noted that previously, while it was able to see the trends in what people were discussing (the “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones and the NBA Finals among them), there was no way for readers to see a cohesive stream of those posts. During TV primetime, between 88 million and 100 million users out of one billion are circling the site, Facebook says.
Now, Facebook cordially invites users to fill their status posts to the brim with hashtags and discuss things communally, the way they do on Twitter. This new feature catches Facebook up to some of its competitors, but the humble hashtag still lags behind Google+’s recent feature announcement, which will auto-tag posts based on their visual and text content and allow them to be sorted appropriately.
Facebook entitled the hashtag memo “public conversations,” which suggests that including a hashtag in a post may automatically make that post viewable to the public. Facebook did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Update: According to a statement from a Facebook representative, posts containing hashtags will be constrained the privacy settings given by the user. Including a hashtag will not force the post to be public or viewable by anyone who views the hashtag.