The History of #Hashtags from humble # sign to hyperlinked verb


Image source: Flickr

Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.
  • Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
  • Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

To note: If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet. 

Source: Twitter Support

Hashtags are now used by other social media including Instagram, Facebook and Flickr.


An interesting timeline of the key moments of the hashtag

History of hashtags



#Hashtag” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake

Good practice: Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet. (Twitter recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)

Some fun making of the overuse of the hashtag and what a conversation might sound like.

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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