June 12, 2013 — -- Get ready to see a lot more of the # symbol in your Facebook Newsfeed. Yes, the social network is about to start looking a bit more like that other social network you might use as it begins to roll out clickable hashtags.
Over the next few weeks all Facebook users will be able to include a hashtagged phrase, like #royalbaby or #puppies, in their posts and then watch it become clickable. When a hashtag is included in a post, clicking on it will pop out a feed that aggregates others posts that have been tagged with the same phrase.
The move will make it easier to find what other people are saying about specific topics and events, something that people have typically gone to Twitter to do over Facebook.
"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's Greg Lindley wrote on the company's blog today. "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."
A Facebook spokesperson told ABC News that this is just one of many announcements coming in the next couple of weeks about ways people can join conversations on the service. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg similarly said that the company is making it easier to find things on Facebook at the All Things D conference earlier this month. The company rolled out its Graph Search to only a subset of users earlier this year.
But why hashtags and not some other symbol or method? Facebook says that hashtags are already all over the service thanks to posts from Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.
"Hashtags are already happening across Facebook, but now they will be clickable and it will pop out a hashtag feed," a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News. Facebook also added that hashtags have become a huge part of Internet vernacular.
Facebook users will be able to search for a specific hashtag from the search bar and compose posts directly from the hashtag feed. Facebook also clarified to ABC News that hashtagged posts will still respect the regular privacy settings. If you include a hashtag in a post going out to just your friends, only your friends will see it appear in that hashtag feed.
The feature will be rolled out on Facebook's desktop site starting today. The company expects all users to have the capability in the next few weeks. The mobile apps, however, will not support the hashtag feeds yet, though you will be able to place a hashtag phrase in your posts from mobile. You just won't be able to see a feed yet.
While Twitter popularized the method of tagging content, it wasn't actually Twitter that invented the hashtag. The idea was actually invented in August 2007 by Chris Messina, now a user experience designer on Google Plus. His idea was to create a place to group different tweets and he proposed the idea of using the "#" symbol.
Turns out, you're going to start seeing that symbol a lot more.