#Facebook? The News Feed isn’t the only thing changing – Facebook is embracing hashtags

urlFacebook and Twitter are the Jackie and Marilyn of social networks. Diametrically opposed but both enormously popular, Facebook is for sharing with a closed group of friends and Twitter is for short, intensely public announcements. But Facebook is creeping into Twitter’s turf, tinkering with settings to encourage more public communication.

And according to the Wall Street Journal and AllThingsD, Facebook is adopting one of Twitter’s most iconic features – the hashtag.

On Twitter, people use the hashtag – the “#” sign, if you’re new to this – in a few different ways. It was initially conceived as a way to label your tweets, so you could find people interested in discussing the same topic. As Twitter describes it to new users, the hashtag “is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.” And people still use it this way, which is obvious whenever a major event goes on – just look up #Oscars or #Superbowl, or this week, #Pope. But people also use the hashtag for punchlines, for emphasis, to denote irony, and for countless other reasons. It’s become a versatile, genuinely useful, and fun tool that the Internet has put its stamp all over.

The hashtag has been adopted by other social platforms for search and discovery purposes, and it’s a simple yet elegant mechanism for these purposes. Instagram and Vine both rely on the function (although, this is unsurprising given that Twitter owns the latter of the two). But Facebook has held out, relying on the “@” tag – also, for discovery purposes, this is fairly limited. It also means that uses who push their tweets and Instagrams to Facebook are pushing content that doesn’t maintain its function, and … well, looks stupid. And now, it’s sounding like Facebook is going to play catch up and start acknowledging the hashtag. 

Clearly, the social network has no intentions of resting on its laurels, and has introduced a number of substantial projects in the past few months. It debuted a redesigned, image-oriented NewsFeed, which Mark Zuckerberg described as a “personalized newspaper.” And the Graph Search project enters Facebook into the search engine foray and situates the social network as a proper Google challenger.

So the decision to lift one of Twitter’s most beloved features shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Facebook is moving away from intimate conversations and trying to get users to engage more publicly. The hashtag may be Facebook’s  way of encouraging users to make their status updates public and searchable instead of hidden behind privacy settings.

But don’t get too excited – the unnamed sources that spoke to the WSJ said “It is unclear how far along Facebook’s work on the hashtag is and the feature isn’t likely to be introduced imminently.” So if you’re dying to use hashtags, stick with Twitter and Instagram for now.

Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

Facebook’s tributes section serves as an online memorial for deceased users

Death doesn't stop Facebook users from sharing memories, and now those memorialized posts have a dedicated spot on the network. Facebook Tribute is a section on memorialized profiles for users to write posts and share memories.
Social Media

How to protect yourself from GoFundMe scams before donating

Can you spot a GoFundMe scam? While the fundraising platform says scams make up less than a tenth of one percent of campaigns, some do try to take advantages of others' charity -- like a case last year that made national news.
Social Media

Your Facebook newsfeed is getting a spring cleaning, and so is Messenger

Hows that newsfeed looking? Facebook has shared an update on efforts to clean up the newsfeed, as well as what tools are coming next. Facebook has new Trust Indicators, while Messenger gains badges for verified accounts.
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.
Social Media

LinkedIn: Now you can express love, curiosity, and more with new Reactions

LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Facebook (three years later!) with the rollout of new reactions that give users more ways to express themselves when responding to posts in their feed.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
News

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.