Last week the developers of Facebook announced that they are to introduce the hashtag feature on the website.
Last week the developers of Facebook announced that they are to introduce the hashtag feature on the website. The aim of the idea is to allow users to group comments together by using hashtags, for example #xfactor, and will allow people to follow events or topics in real-time. People will be able to search for hashtags and connect with others on the website who are discussing the same things, and they will also be clickable.
Sounds fairly familiar…
So what does this mean, exactly? In my opinion, it shows that Twitter is winning the social networking war. Facebook and Twitter have always fought it out to be on top, however, until now it has been quite hard to compare the two. Facebook has always been focused on friends, photos and detailed personal profiles, whereas Twitter is more about celebrities, national news and current affairs.
Social Networking War
As soon as Facebook introduced features with the same names as parts of Twitter, timeline, following and verified accounts, it became clear that the developers of Facebook saw Twitter as somewhat of a leader in the world of social networking. The introduction of hashtags only confirms this further.
The two networks are becoming less distinct from one another, and I believe that if they become much more similar, we may even see them merge together, like popular messaging services Skype and Windows Live are to this year. Over 100 million Windows Live Messenger users will be transferred to Skype, and if Twitter expands or Facebook simplifies, we could see the same thing happen there.
Completely Changing the Demographic
Facebook is currently rolling out hashtags to around 20 percent of its users, and should launch the feature globally within a few weeks. It is also likely to completely change the demographic of Facebook, as of course, posts have always originally remained private, between only the friends who have accepted one another. Hashtags will make Facebook enter a more public domain, encouraging its users to engage in conversations with strangers, as is commonplace on Twitter.
It will be interesting to see whether hashtags will have a positive or a negative effect on the social networking site. They will more than likely help Facebook increase its advertising venue, as advertisers can target users who use particular hashtags, and could even encourage regular users of Twitter to join the site as they may be attracted to the similarity. On the other hand, regular users of Facebook may be disconcerted by the introduction of the feature.
I believe that the hashtag is something which should stay on Twitter only. When Facebook introduces it properly, the website will stop defining itself as a separate social networking site and will simply be absorbed into the famous ‘Twitter hype.’
Facebook argues that people were using hashtags on the site anyway, which was true to some extent, but in my opinion if hashtags are going to be something Facebook heavily concentrates on, developers are taking a massive risk.
After a while, we’ll all start thinking, we might as well just use Twitter anyway, right?