Facebook hashtags: What will they mean for political discourse?



By Becky Hogan

Facebook recently unveiled clickable hashtags to the network, allowing users to click through to view other users talking about the same topics and phrases.  And just last week they began rolling out the hashtag feature for the mobile site.

Hashtags were originally created by Twitter users to tag trending topics with keywords and have been a major reason why Twitter has become the social network of choice for many politicos–they connect people to conversations and therefore to political dialogue.

During the 2012 election, Mitt Romney even bought a hashtag for his campaign. The promotional hashtag #RomneyRyan2012 reportedly came with a $120,000 price tag.

Being able to follow topics or issues, regardless of whether you follow the people discussing them, is why Twitter has been a better tool for political campaigns. But With over 167,000,000 users on Facebook in the U.S. alone, the network has been too big for politicians to ignore.

Just last week, we saw how powerful hashtags can be when #StandWithWendy and #SB5 were the reason Twitter lit up with news of Wendy Davis’ filibuster long before main stream media outlets caught on to the story.

Now it’s not only possible to search for hashtags on Facebook, but also for related topics.

Facebook analyzes keywords that are often posted together, so for example, #SCOTUS also brings up posts tagged with #DOMA, #gaymarriage or #Scalia.  Related searches will make it easier to discover new conversations, as searching for one hashtag will bring up results for similar topics.  Searching for hashtags on Facebook will also bring up Instagram posts that are are hashtagged.

Privacy settings will still override hashtags on Facebook, however. Users with privacy settings set to “friends only” will be sharing their hashtags only with their connections.  It will be interesting to see if privacy settings will limit hashtag usage on the site.

Other the other hand, Facebook allows for much longer posts which means hashtags can be more easily identified by users since they don’t have to worry about character limits.

Facebook hashtags are also sure to boost ad targeting on the social network which could mean a new way to target voters who are interested in certain issues.

Will hashtags on Facebook promote more political dialogue on the social network? #staytuned

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Image source: digitaltrends.com

One thought on “Facebook hashtags: What will they mean for political discourse?

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