By Glenn Chapman (AFP) – Facebook added Twitter-style hashtags to help the more than one billion members of the social network tune into topics of interest.
“To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about,” Facebook product manager Greg Lindley said in a blog post on Wednesday.
“Similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion.”
Twitter made the “#” symbol part of Internet Age culture by letting users of the globally popular one-to-many text messaging service label comments with terse topic descriptions marked with the punctuation mark.
Facebook users can search the service based on hashtags or click on a hashtag to get a list of posts people have put in the category, according to Lindley.
“Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations,” Lindley said.
“We’ll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months.”
This is not the first time that the leading social network has taken a lesson from Twitter.
Last month, Facebook began authenticating the pages of famous folks and big brands at the social network in a move that follows in Twitter’s footsteps.
Facebook launched Verified Pages “to help people find the authentic accounts of celebrities and other high-profile people and businesses on Facebook,” the California-based Internet giant said in a blog post.
Verified Pages display small blue circles with a white check mark in the middle to indicate that identities have been confirmed.
The blog post used a verified Facebook page of singer and actress Selena Gomez as an example.
“Verified Pages belong to a small group of prominent public figures (celebrities, journalists, government officials, popular brands and businesses) with large audiences,” Facebook said.
“This update is rolling out to profiles as well.”
Twitter has long featured similar verification badges that have become status symbols of sorts.
Facebook has made a priority of following its users onto mobile devices such as smartphones, where Twitter has flourished since its launch in 2005.
More people visit Facebook on any given day using mobile applications than do using desktop computers, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said this week during the first annual shareholders meeting since the social network became a publicly traded company last year.
Facebook said its membership continues to grow rapidly and that it is working on a version of the service better suited to use by people in emerging markets where Internet connections be slow or low-capacity.
Smartphones have increasingly become the first computers people own in developing countries, giving Facebook even more motivation to make its service friendly to mobile devices.