Facebook reportedly adding hashtag support

A new report claims Facebook developers are working to incorporate the social networking website staple of hashtags, which have largely been made famous by Twitter, into its own service. Those familiar with the matter are unaware of how long exactly the Palo Alto-based company have been building the functionality, but the feature is unlikely to be released imminently. 

If implemented, the element would allow fast indexing of conversations built around topics, as on Twitter. The move ties in with Facebook's effort to become the "best personalised newspaper," recently unveiling new search features and a total redesign of the News Feed.

This presents obvious advantages with increasing the amount of time users spend on the site and therefore the reach of advertising, but could decrease the company's credibility if they're seen to be copying rival services' features directly. The move does illustrate Facebook's heightening rivalry with Twitter, however. 

Hashtags on Twitter allow users to comment upon a topic using a hash symbol, such as #Vatican. Despite Twitter offering a protected – or private – status for accounts, the social networking service has always remained inherently open compared to Facebook.

It would make most sense for an open, public area of Facebook to hold hashtag-based conversations. Given the volume of users Facebook currently holds (over a billion), a Twitter-clone within the service could see many part-time tweeters abandon the service altogether in favour of Facebook. This could, however, present further privacy issues.

Both companies are fighting over mobile users and monetization opportunities, when many users of each service use both frequently. Facebook's advertising revenue soared above $4.3 billion last year, whereas Twitter is predicted to make $500 million this year. The difference does decrease when focusing mobile advertising, however, where Twitter is expected to turn over $249 million this year compared to Facebook's $851 million. When contrasted with the respective users of each service though, Twitter are making far more revenue per-user.

Source: Wall Street JournalImage via Facebook

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