Facebook's adoption of this overused punctuation mark brings validity to its existence. This is disappointing for a good number of reasons.
First, let's examine the hashtag origin story:
We have a blogger, Chris Messina, to thank for mainstreaming the hashtag in 2007. Messina thought that it would be a good idea to be able to track similar tweets, in a manner similar to an IRC channel. IRC chatrooms are identified with a # prefixing their name. Messina never referred to the symbol as a hashtag, calling it tag hash instead.
Messina's reasoning is sound. Hashtags are useful to participate in a continuing conversation surrounding Presidential debates, or Game of Thones episodes. It is apparently this reason that Mike Issac at All Things Digital considers the Facebook hashtag adoption. There is money to be made in that real-time conversation.
However, this isn't how hashtags are used:
Hashtags are used to be found, and more hashtags equals more likes. Thus we are left with the hashtag spamming that plagues Instagram and Twitter. On Facebook, your network is your friends--there shouldn't be a need to use hashtags to get those outside of your network to see your posts. This is the opposite of Twitter in which the audience always is the global community.
Rebecca Greenfield begs us to "Shut Up and Love the Facebook Hashtag Already" in her article for The Atlantic Wire. She recognizes the potential changes in Facebook usage that this little piece of punctuation could cause:
But if hashtags catch on, our Facebook habits will undoubtedly change. Right now, we're used to posting things for friends' eyes only. With that little criss-cross, the social network wants us to have much more public conversations on the site. As we saw on Twitter, that might just happen — and fast. But the hashtag, as ever, will almost certainly take on a life of its own.The hashtag isn't particularly useful when posting statuses for only your friends to see. Does this mean we will become even more public with our oversharing?
Image Credit: Michael Coghlan