In the latest development of the Facebook/Twitter war, the previously loyal hashtag has threatened to betray Twitter and join the enemy.
If Facebook do decide to incorporate hastags, Mark Zuckerberg will be hoping they are able to better understand the popularity of #trendingtopics, thereby improving the results shown in its news feed and increasing the time people spend staring at their news feeds, or, more specifically, the ads.
The humble hashtag has long been associated with Twitter but the truth is that it was in use across forums and chat rooms long before the micro-blogging platform took it under its big blue wing. And recently Instagram, the photo sharing service recently acquired by Facebook, began incorporating hashtags to allow users to sort photos more easily, making this Facebook revelation even less surprising.
Earlier in the month it was revealed that Facebook would be launching a new, visually more engaging news feed, so all the signs are that Facebook is prioritising online news and real time broadcasting, an area of social previously dominated by Twitter.
And this shouldn’t come as a surprise. While Twitter may have just a fraction of the audience of Facebook, it’s proved to be an extremely attractive marketing tool for advertisers, most notably during this years’ Superbowl. Clearly Zuckerberg and his team think that the ability to harness real time, mass interaction, is going to be a critical ingredient in cementing and monetising its grip on social.