Facebook recently announced that it’s launching the ability for users to follow conversations via #hashtags. Even though people were using hashtags before, there was no real functional value. According to Facebook’s blog post, the company confirmed that it’s not a new idea and stated that it will be “similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest.” Anytime you click on a hashtag, you’ll find a feed of comments using that hashtag. You will now be able to search for hashtags, click on hashtags coming from other services, and write posts directly from the hashtag feed.
Following is Facebook’s reasoning for this addition: The company stated, “Every day, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to share their thoughts on big moments happening all around them. Whether it’s talking about a favorite television show, cheering on a hometown sports team or engaging with friends during a breaking news event—people on Facebook connect with their friends about what’s taking place all over the world.”
The company continued, “To bring these conversations more to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics. As a first step, we are beginning to roll out hashtags on Facebook.”
Since Facebook stated that it’s only “beginning to roll out” this feature, don’t expect to see it right away. Typically, the company doesn’t turn on features for all its users at once, and gradually rolls them out instead. Interestingly, Facebook also stated that it will be introducing more features similar to this one.
According to Facebook, during prime time television hours, 88 million to 100 million Americans are using Facebook. For example, The Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding was mentioned in conversations on the platform 1.5 million times. This year’s Oscars had 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.
Even though the company didn’t discuss privacy in its blog post, according to a company spokesperson, hashtags will have the same privacy features you currently have set on your account. So, people can only see comments that they are authorized to see. If you include a hashtag in a friends-only post, then your friends will be the only ones who can see it in a hashtag search.
However, just like when Graph Search was introduced, you’ll need to reconfirm your privacy settings. As soon as you click in the status update box, there is a small toggle that allows you to select who you share your post with. If you only want your friends to see the hashtag, be sure that this toggle has friends selected.