Taking After Twitter: Facebook to Add Hashtags

Embracing easier search and public conversations, Facebook announced on Wednesday that it was adding clickable hashtags. As with Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest, when you click on a hashtag you'll see what other people and pages are saying about the same topic.

In a blog post on its website, Facebook said that until now, there "has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what's happening or what people are talking about." The launch today aims to "surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people and topics."

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Users will also now be able to search for a specific hashtag from the search bar. Users can also compose posts from the hashtag feed and search results. And to integrate its Instagram acquisition, Facebook is allowing users to click on hashtags that originate from other services.

The move is part of a larger strategy by Facebook to help people who are having public conversations—about breaking news, TV shows—to do so more easily. And this doesn't require any change in user behavior: Thanks to the way people communicate on Twitter, people are already using hash tags on Facebook to organize and index conversations.

This announcement appears to also be a direct acknowledgment of the value of the hashtag-indexed public conversations carried out on Twitter. Facebook wants a piece of Twitter's business, and if it can grow the public conversation and the amount people search that conversation, that could be a key way to tap into the valuable search business as well.

Facebook says there are no new ad products or ways to make money around Wednesday's announcement, and added that in coming weeks and months it will role out more features, including trending hashtags.

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—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin