Social media
Like rival, Facebook to offer hashtags

Facebook hopes to become more of a public forum by introducing hashtags on the social network. Following the lead of rival Twitter, Facebook is adding the ability to tag a post with phrases noting that it is part of a larger conversation.

“To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about,” Facebook Product Manager Greg Lindley wrote in a company blog post Wednesday. Facebook hashtags, like those on other social sites, will be denoted with a “#” sign.

Although the company has more users than Twitter — about 655 million active daily users compared with Twitter’s 200 million — Facebook has not been as successful as Twitter at marketing itself as a place for online discussion. But the content, Lindley noted, is there.

For example, he said, 88 million to 100 million Americans post on Facebook during prime-time television hours each night and comment actively on what they watch.

Facebook hashtags will work in much the same way they do on Twitter. When you see a hashtag in a post, you can click on it and see a feed of other posts that use the same conversation marker. Users also can search for specific hashtags to find more information about a trending topic and can click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Facebook’s photo site, Instagram.

Posts that have been hashtagged, however, do follow the same sharing and privacy rules as normal posts. So even if you litter your posts with pound signs, no one will see them unless you say they can.

— Hayley Tsukayama

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