June 12, 2013 at 1:45 PM ET
The hashtag — # — is now a part of Facebook, and the tech shorthand should make it easier for users to follow specific topics of conversation on the social network. Either that, or it will drive its users more nutty by adding yet another visual annoyance.
Twitter popularized the use of the hashtag, which has subsequently been picked up by other social media sites like Instagram (owned by Facebook), Tumblr and Pinterest.
Starting immediately, Facebook said Wednesday, "hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion. When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you'll see a feed of what other people and Pages are saying about that event or topic."
Twitter's hashtag use has been very popular for connecting real-time tweets — limited to 140 characters — about news, sports and for TV watchers, sharing reactions to everything from who's wearing what at the Academy Awards to comments about the "Games of Thrones" upsets.
But on the social network until now, "there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what's happening or what people are talking about," wrote Greg Lindley of Facebook:
During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook — roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night. The recent "Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year's Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.
The introduction of the hashtag is just a "first step," Lindley wrote. Facebook, he said, will be "rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics."
Facebook users can search for a specific hashtag using Facebook's search tool — say putting in the hashtag, #Election or #NBAFinals (as Facebook itself used in its example).