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Why in the world did Facebook ever think it needed hashtags?
When hashtags were first introduced to Facebook, they were all over the place. But, lately, it is getting harder to find them on anyone’s news feed. If you are confused about Facebook hashtags, or wondering why they’re simply not working, here are a few pieces of information you may want to know.
Hashtags Are Not Native To Facebook
Hashtags have been kicking around the engineering community since the 1970s. Twitter was launched in late 2006. In 2007, a programmer named Chris Messina recommended that hashtags be used on Twitter. Twitter users are able to create conversation streams using hashtags, which helped Twitter to take off. Twitter basically grew up with hashtags.
Facebook has been around for almost 10 years before it started using hashtags. By the time hashtags hit Facebook, it just looked like Facebook was copying Twitter.
Hashtags May Not Be Necessary On Facebook
Prior to hashtags, there really was no way to create conversation streams on Twitter. Hashtags have an important role on Twitter in that they allow users to discuss topics and respond to each other’s tweets.
Facebook is based on creating streams of conversations. Facebook users can create groups and converse about individual topics. Hashtags work on Twitter because they are essential. Facebook hashtags can be used to create conversation streams as well, but hashtags are not essential to bringing people together on Facebook.
Furthermore, the recent introduction of Facebook’s Trending Topics renders them even less useful.
Facebook Users Seem Confused About Hashtags
All you need to do to create a hashtag on Facebook is put a pound sign in front of a set of words run together without spaces and hit “enter.” So if I wanted to create a hashtag on Facebook, I could just type #MakeUseOf on my Facebook status and it would instantly become a hashtag. It’s that easy.
If you actually click on most hashtags on Facebook, however, they lead to what looks like empty conversations. That is because hashtags are still being used as a sort of novelty by most Facebook users, potentially diluting the real effectiveness of this conversation tool. Either that, or they’re used in promotional posts actual users don’t care enough about.
Facebook Hashtags Are Clogging Up The Internet!
Each and every hashtag created on Facebook gets its own Internet URL. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that some Facebook users create thousands of hashtags for the same topic.
When Dennis Rodman did his rant on CNN from North Korea, there were thousands of hashtags about the topic created by Facebook users. In most cases, clicking on the hashtags leads to empty conversation streams. With each hashtag creating its own URL, Facebook could be looking at millions of URLs over the next few years. Is the helpful in any way?
Facebook Privacy Rules Still Apply To Hashtags
Facebook is famous for its internal battles about user privacy and how to keep everyone safe from themselves and each other. If you start a Facebook hashtag, all of your Facebook privacy rules apply there too.
That means that if you only allow your friends to see your status updates, then only your friends will see your hashtag. This would explain why so many hashtags seem to go to empty conversations streams. Unlike Twitter, where everything is public, private hashtags may not have as much of a point, and make users question the real purpose of Facebook hashtags.
Could Facebook Hashtags Just Be A Fad?
Critics of Facebook often refer to Facebook hashtags as useless toys that the social media giant has delivered to appease its millions of users. While it is possible to organize conversations utilizing Facebook hashtags, the overbearing limitations of Facebook privacy policies could be rendering hashtags useless. Are Facebook hashtags just a fad, or are they here to stay? Only time will tell.
Do you use hashtags on Facebook, or do you find them redundant?