It might seem like just yesterday that you were explaining how it worked to your mom, but it was ten years ago today that the hashtag was born. #Hashtag10
New York Magazine regales us with the original tweet of former Google and Uber lead developer Chris Messina who suggested the use of the pound sign as a way to connect specific groups within Twitter.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?— ⌗ChrisMessina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
We feel great about it Chris! #LOL #innovate #disrupt
Messina told Wired in its piece, The Hashtag: An Oral History, "Ten years ago, we were at South by Southwest in Austin when Twitter was really blowing up. But there were a lot of people back in San Francisco frustrated that their Twitter feeds were full of stories from Austin that were not relevant to them. There was no way of organizing tweets so you knew what to pay attention to and what to ignore. It took a few months to get going. I believe it was October before the hashtag had its first breakout success."
According to Twitter, 125 million hashtags are shared on the platform every day, including #ThrowbackThursdays and #FollowFridays.
CNet explains the industry-wide impact of Messina's idea, saying:
"They're not just on Twitter, of course. Twitter's much larger competitor Facebook and its popular photo-sharing platform, Instagram, also use hashtags. The business communications app Slack uses hashtags to organize group discussions.There's another reason hashtags have caught on. Hashtags by far have become the easiest social component to quantify, paving the way for the social analytics movement, said Kellan Terry, a data analyst with Brandwatch, a social media analysis platform. 'There was a time that you couldn't find a commercial that didn't include a hashtag at the end,' he said. 'The cultural significance of the hashtag can't be understated.'"
Impact indeed. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #BringBackOurGirls have united millions in fights for social justice and awareness of specific issues. Locally, we use it to follow news and events we're interested in or worried about, like #Batkid, #SFblackout and anytime there's a 1.2-magnitude earthquake. But according to NYMag, five of the ten most popular hashtags of all time (#MTVHottest, #MTVStars, #KCA, #iHeartAwards, #FanArmy) were in response to televised award shows. Which is to say, hashtags are most often used for things relating to Justin Bieber, et al. #SadTrombone
"I'm not sure anyone ever really knows what hashtag is going to become viral until it does. The very first tweet was '#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair,' and I was just being sort of cheeky and frustrated with what I was watching on the Oscar nominations and it just took off from there," #OscarsSoWhite hashtag creator April Reign told NPR.
#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair. 😒— April (@ReignOfApril) January 15, 2015
According to the Irish Independent, #love is the most popular hashtag on Twitter. Moving forward, please use it every time you tweet at @SFist. #Thanks