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Facebook finally brings hashtags to the conversation, trending topics coming soon

Facebook has finally pulled the trigger on the long-rumoured integration of Twitter-like clickable hashtags within posts.

The social network says adding hashtags is the first in a series of new features that will allow users to view the wider context of what’s being discussed by people and on Pages.

The new feature, rolling out from today, will allow users to click a hashtag and be taken directly to a feed showing posts from others who’ve shared content using the identifying symbol. Just like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, among others.

Beyond that, hashtags that are imported as part of shared posts from the aforementioned services will also be clickable and users can also search directly from within the search bar and then compose posts directly from the hashtag feed itself.

The company said that tools like trending tags and deeper insights “that help people discover more of the world’s conversations,” will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months.

Facebook explained that the integration of hashtags comes at a time when upto 100 million people are engaged on Facebook during prime time TV.

It claimed the Red Wedding Game of Thrones episode (we’re still picking pieces of our hearts up off the floor) generated 1.5 million mentions on Facebook from the 5.2 million people watching the show on HBO. That’s a pretty sizable proportion.

The blog post read: “To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.

“To bring these conversations more to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics. As a first step, we are beginning to roll out hashtags on Facebook.”

From a privacy standpoint, the introduction may raise more concerns. The company has already admitted its intentions to begin indexing user posts as part of its Graph Search engine and this will make things are damn sight easier.

Within its Newsroom blog post, the company assures users they will be able to control who sees their hashtags in just the same way they control who sees any of their posts.

Facebook said “As always, you control the audience for your posts including those with hashtags.”

A Facebook spokesperson also told Trusted Reviews: “When you use a hashtag in a post it will only appear in the hashtag feeds and search results for  people who are in the audience for that post. For example, if you choose “friends” then your friends will see your post when they view relevant hashtag results.”

That will give users the opportunity to make posts ‘public’ when they wish to join the wider conversation on the site, rather than simply posting for their audience of friends.

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