Twitter makes 'cashtag' stock symbols official

The social network has rolled out a new feature aimed at the discussion of specific companies, but not without criticism.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Twitter is currently rolling out a new feature for users. Expanding further beyond the original 140 character message platform concept, social networking users can now click on stock symbols that have a $ sign in front of them.

Once clicked, you can see all the current conversations trending about a particular company, in the same manner as hashtag (#) links. Commonly referred to as "cashtags", these new Twitter standards take you automatically to a Twitter search. However, the new feature does not show any expanded information -- such as current stock prices -- but it is not hard to imagine that they could eventually do so.

On Twitter's official feed, it read: 


Twitter gives the example of General Electric ($GE) above, but of course this can work for any company -- including Apple ($AAPL), Google ($GOOG) and Facebook ($FB).

However, the latest in new standards -- following #hashtags and @replies -- has drawn some criticism. The new feature closely resembles the same functions that company StockWits has offered for some duration. StockTwits co-founder and CEO Howard Lindzon sold his cache of Twitter shares last week, and wrote in a blog post, titled "The Twitter Hijacking of Stocktwits $ .. The Cashtag":

"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.
You can hijack a plane but it does not mean you know how to fly it."

The CEO continued, stating that the use of the $ symbol to structure internal data may be more about advertising revenue than member functionality, and does not measure up against the advanced functions of StockWits, where basic stock information structures were implemented four years ago. Lindzon said:

"Twitter is about advertising dollars. They have $1 billion of venture money on the line. Lots of pressures I am not interested in .. I wonder how well that will do for $FXCM (buying ads on twitter) converting hits from rappers into FOREX accounts."
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