Facebook has hashtags now

The Week

#Everybody #panic

Since Facebook users are always uniformly delighted every time the social network suddenly reveals big changes to its platform, Mark Zuckerberg and Co. have decided to bestow users with the ability to hashtag their status updates.

The Twitter-like feature hasn't rolled out for everybody quite yet. But starting today when you post something new to your timeline, you'll be able to tag it with a clickable "#" like you already can on Twitter or Instagram. For example:

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According to a Facebook blog post, soon users will be able to….

• Search for a specific hashtag from the search bar.
• Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram.
• Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.

Facebook, let's remember, has been doggedly trying to shed its reputation as a dusty place where your weird relatives hang out, particularly with teens flocking to more linear services like Snapchat or Instagram (which use hashtags). Even Google+ beat Facebook to the #punch.

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Hashtags also help facilitate searchable conversations that are at least semi-topical; and conversations hold currency since they keep users trapped in a time-sucking rabbit hole. That's at least partly why Twitter is the global town hall for gleaning what digitally savvy people are talking about — #RIPSteveJobs, #NSA, #RedWedding, etc.

It probably isn't worth getting too worked up by the inevitable #hashtagization of Facebook. Sure, there's the possibility that it'll heap another spoonful of stupid, distracting noise into your feed. But it's just another tool — like most things social, you don't have to use it if you don't want to.

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