Facebook is considering adopting hashtags, those keywords preceded by a hash or pound (#) mark that are sometimes used on Twitter, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Let’s just say this: That’s a horrible idea.
Chris Messina, an open-source advocate who now works at Google, first proposed using hashtags in 2007. At the time, the notion of tags, or user-assigned categories, had already grown popular through blogs and services like Flickr and Delicious.
In practice, hashtags have become one of those impenetrable inside jokes that make Twitter confusing for new users. Twitter has attempted to redeem hashtags by using the hash character as a symbol for search, and linking hashtags to search results. It’s aso experimented with using hashtags as a way of creating advertiser-friendly topic pages for big events like the Olympics and Nascar races.
But for most people, the hashtag is a giant turnoff. In fact, one of the proven ways to lower your follower count is to use them. (No, really—someone did a study about this.)
Oh, and Google+ has hashtags.
Here’s one counterargument for Facebook experimenting with hashtags: They seem popular on Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service. But hashtags existed on Instagram from its earliest days, making it easy to find photos about a topic or in a certain style.
It’s a far different prospect to introduce the confusing hashtag metaphor to mainstream Facebook users, where a billion people have managed to get by just fine without them.
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