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Twitter Miraculously Discovers the 'Cashtag,' and I Don't Like It, Not One Bit

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Twitter officially recognized an already-popular practice for tweeting about stocks.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL For years, anyone on Twitter with an interest in stocks and investing has been well aware of how to let other folks know when they're talking about a stock: Just stick a dollar sign in front of a stock symbol and create what is called a 'cashtag.'

So if you're tweeting about Microsoft (MSFT), you put in $MSFT.

This practice was popularized by StockTwits.com, a Twitter-based investing community, years ago.

However, Twitter must love the smell of financial-services advertising dollars in the morning. Otherwise, why would it have dropped this bomb this morning?:

twitter-tweet

The word 'now' makes this announcement just plain rude.

The cashtag concept (though to be honest, I never heard the word cashtag until this morning) has been popular for many years now, so why is Twitter pretending that it's new?

And according to StockTwits founder Howard Lindzon, just a few months ago, Twitter was not interested in the concept:

It's interesting that Twitter has hijacked our creation of $TICKER ie. $AAPL. It only took four years to 'fill' this hole, though a few months back they told me in a detailed email it was not a hole they wanted to fill.

Now why on Earth would Twitter decide to backpedal and start chasing stocks?

Well, a picture speaks a thousand words, so feast your eyes on this:

facebook-chart

I'm willing to bet that Twitter's management team and backers have seen the shellacking Facebook (FB) has taken since going public in May, and decided to put the advertising pedal to the metal. (See: Facebook Needs a Salesman-in-Chief to Offset Weakening Business Metrics.)

Frankly, this has me worried that, like Facebook, Twitter's numbers won't live up to the inevitable Wall Street hype job, meaning that insiders and venture capitalists will once again cash out to an overeager public desperately seeking the next big thing. (See: Why a Facebook IPO Could Flop.)

But technically, this looks like a smart move for Twitter as at least a couple of advertisers are purchasing Promoted Tweets against cashtags. And the more it promotes cashtags, the higher its rates will be.

For example, Yahoo (YHOO) Finance is sponsoring the the Apple (AAPL) and Facebook cashtags:





Online broker eToro is sponsoring the Microsoft and Amazon (AMZN) ones:






However, I did notice one little wrinkle that may make Howard Lindzon smile: I saw Promoted Tweets for Google (GOOG) and McDonald's (MCD) earlier in the morning, but as of the time I'm writing this (9:00 a.m. ET), they're nowhere to be found.

Maybe they got a whiff of the negative PR?

Who knows.

But either way, Facebook's bizarrely-sudden discovery of the cashtag smells like desperation to me, and I suspect that Facebook Part Deux is coming soon to a theater near you.

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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Position in AAPL
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