It was a Wednesday – a cold morning – when I saw a tweet hinting that Facebook was going to roll out hashtags. Anger bubbled inside me and I nearly choked on my granola. Again, Facebook was piggybacking on the success of one of Twitter’s iconic features. I mean, we’ve all raged at someone when they use hashtags on Facebook. #YOLO
But when the day came around when hashtags were rolled out … it was love. Absolute love. It felt so wrong to like it, so foreign to my preconceptions of what to expect. In an update to shareholders, Facebook mentioned that, ‘to date there has not been a simple way to see a large view of what’s happening and what people are talking about’. And that’s exactly what this function provides.
Using #worldrefugeeday as my first search, it was immediately apparent that Facebook hashtags – as much as I wanted to dislike them – were a content-rich offering. Unlike Twitter, the content displayed was more than 140 characters, had link previews, images, one-click video, comments and shares. Everything was displayed.
Facebook hashtags offer a few more functions including:
But just when I thought I was wrong about Facebook hashtags, I was wrong about Facebook hashtags. Like a Greek tragedy, our journey had passed from anger to love and now to despair. Facebook hashtags are not yet available for smartphone. The segment that is by far the largest group of Facebook users has been completely neglected, leaving the Facebook hashtag offering inconsistent and, at this stage, disappointing.
I’m confident that once hashtags are available on smartphone, we will easily forget that the idea was lifted from Twitter and it will become a regular part of the Facebook interaction environment. But for now, like a jaded lover, I leave broken-hearted by something I learnt to love so quickly – only to be let down.
Facebook, I love you, but I love my smartphone more. I’m sure we can work this out. xo
Update 29/08/2013: Facebook hashtags now work on mobile devices. We cool Facebook, we cool.