Industry insiders say hashtags are coming to Facebook
, as the social networking giant attempts to stay competitive against Twitter and attractive to advertisers.
Hashtags, words or phrases preceded by the pound symbol "#," are Twitter's most iconic feature. They allow users to group messages about a single news event or topic, like the selection of the pope (#PopeFrancis).
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While Facebook already allows users to tag locations, people, and pages, hashtags would make it easier for content to be indexed by the site's new Graph Search tool.
Facebook hashtags would also be more attractive to advertisers. As of now, Twitter is able to market to users based on their hashtag usage. For example, if a user follows a hashtag about #desserts, a company like Hostess could sell ads directly to anyone who searches that hashtag, says Mike Isaac on AllThingsD, a tech analysis site.
"Facebook, on the other hand, can't tap into that trending sentiment quite as effectively," he writes. "While the company does attempt to place relevant ads in the News Feed and lower-right-rail to reach its users, it would do better to let people dig deeper into trends across categories. So blatantly ripping off Twitter makes some sense here."
Representatives from Facebook aren’t yet publically discussing the possibility of implementing hashtags.
"We do not comment on rumor or speculation," the company said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
One of the first high-profile uses of the hashtag on Twitter happened in 2007, when San Diego resident Nate Ritter tagged his posts about wildfires in the area with #sandiegofire.
Facebook has long been trying to make the site more attractive to advertisers. Just last week, Facebook announced its plans to unveil a redesigned News Feed
, featuring bigger photos, splashier graphics, and new tools for organizing content.
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