Every company has specific patterns of behavior that, over time, tend to betray their actions before they happen. Facebook is no exception. And if past behavior is a guide, Twitter is about to be shown the door.
Why do we say this? Because Facebook is about to… ah… “borrow” the concept of hashtags:
Facebook is testing whether to follow Twitter’s lead and allow users to click on a hashtag to pull up all posts about similar topics or events so it can quickly index conversations around trending topics and build those conversations up, giving users more reason to stay logged in and see more ads. Instagram, which Facebook acquired last year, already uses hashtags, allowing users to sort photos by the symbol.
Somewhere, that guy who always complains about how you shouldn’t use hashtags in Facebook posts is crying, bitterly.
So why is this a potential hint that Twitter will be locked out? Generally, once Facebook offers a similar function, it boots any API users that might compete with the main site. This is the same justification that Facebook offered for shutting down Vine, for example.
It doesn’t help that hashtags are being incorporated largely due to the value to advertisers, and it’s not a secret Facebook wants you to log in and stay there to look at the ads.
It all comes down to the value of the traffic: How much is content reposted from Twitter worth, against how much in the way of traffic does Facebook believe it loses from people clicking over Twitter links?
Once hashtags are introduced on Facebook, we’ll likely find out.