Should Facebook Add Hashtags?

If you have not noticed by now, almost all major social networking sites have something in common: hashtags. Twitter started it, Tumblr adapted it, Instagram flooded it, Pinterest and Google+ supported it, even international services like Russia’s VK and China’s Sina Weibo recently had it. And guess who does not have hashtags? The most popular of them all: Facebook.

CNET has called out Facebook’s absence of hashtag, saying it is an “obvious hole” and its “missing link to pop culture.”

“Hashtags are a form of expression that Facebook, like your grandparents, just can’t understand,” writes CNET’s Jennifer Van Grove.

Hashtags, commonly written with a pound sign (#) followed by a single-worded or jointly-phrased subject, has been conveniently used to search for hot topics the social media world has been posting or sharing. It was first used in Twitter in 2007 as a way to group conversations together.

In Facebook, hashtags appear as plain text. It does not form into a hyperlink much like any other hashtags around. Although a number of users use hashtags on Facebook when cross-posting updates from Instagram or Twitter, the hashtags become disconnected from the discussion, news, or photos they reference.

There have been rumors that Facebook will introduce working hashtags in its service, but it will said to function differently from the microblogging service Facebook tries to distance its lead against. A recently-discovered code allegedly hints that Facebook would let users hover over a hashtag to view more information about the topic or read a stream of publicly-share status updates using the same hashtag.

This could also mean that Facebook would not follow Twitter’s lead of using hashtags as a search tool, mainly because Facebook users function differently from Tweeters. While Twitter has evolved to become a real-time broadcaster of what goes on around the world, Facebook remains a venue for users to connect with close friends and family (as well as several Candy Crush Saga players).

The bottom line is that making hashtags work on Facebook would provide an opportunity for the social networking site to display more advertisements, as if they do not display enough ads as it is.

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