Facebook will soon be intensifying their battle with Twitter as they are preparing to roll out hashtag support. The social network already allows members to tag people, places and pages but hashtags will open up a whole new world of possibilities for the company and its users.

Twitter made the hashtag famous in 2007 but that doesn’t mean that Facebook can’t jump in on the action – even if they are a bit late to the party. There are plenty of reasons why Facebook would want to add the feature such as making it easier to index content through Graph Search and attracting more advertising dollars. If you’ve watched primetime television lately, you’re no doubt already familiar with how popular (some would argue, overused) the hashtag already is.

If you aren’t familiar, hashtags are a word or phrase prefixed with the # symbol as a way to group all posts about a single topic or news event together. They were originally used within IRC networks as a way to label groups and topics. This usage inspired Chris Messina to propose that a similar system be used on Twitter to index topics.

The first reported widespread use of hashtags on Twitter took place in late 2007 when San Francisco resident Nate Ritter used the tag #sandiegofire with his frequent posts about the California wildfires in San Diego County.

Facebook told the LA Times that they do not comment on rumor or speculation in an e-mailed statement.