Twitter #Hashtag Turns 10: Brilliant Idea Initially Got a #Meh From Twitter HQ

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#HBD to you, Twitter hashtag. The insanely simple life hack for categorizing and/or filtering topics on the (remember when we used to call it a) microblogging social network was first used exactly ten years ago, by way of a question posed by tech veteran Chris Messina.

"how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?" Messina wrote at 3:25 PM on Aug. 23, 2007. Whether any of his followers chimed in immediately is unclear -- Messina's mentions for the tweet are littered with back-slaps for his idea.

The hashtag came about nearly a year and a half after co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey's first tweet, in March 2006. What Dorsey or anyone else at Twitter couldn't predict was that the little # would become such a popular and important tool for online communication, one that has been adopted by every other social media network for the same utility.

In a new blog post, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone recalls the day Messina walked into their then-offices and proposed the hashtag idea. Unfortunately, the site had just gone down, so they were initially dismissive of the idea, Stone admits.

"Because brevity is essential on Twitter, [Messina] suggested using the 'pound' or 'hash' character common on phones (this was pre-iPhone) to create groups of related Tweets," writes Stone. "It was an undeniably elegant proposal, but I really needed to get back to work. I turned back to my computer screen to help get Twitter back up and running, hurriedly ending the conversation with a sarcastic, 'Sure, we'll get right on that.'"

Messina didn't take offense, and later that day shot off that first hashtag'd tweet, which led to another and another and another. Not long after, Twitter developers added code to hyperlink the hashtags, making them easier to follow.

As Stone points out, the hashtag is #allgrowsup since its days as a topic grouper. "Since it first appeared on Twitter, the hashtag has dramatically evolved -- from grouping Tweets, to adding quirky commentary, to sparking social movements and global conversations. Using hashtags on Twitter, people worldwide have made this platform their microphone, shaped culture, and changed the world."

To celebrate the #'s birthday, Twitter has created a special hashtag (#Hashtag10) and released some stats about the phenomenon. For starters, there are an average of 125 million hashtags tweeted per day. The most Tweeted hashtag in 2007 was used around 9,000 times, while the most-used one (so far) in 2017 was used over 300 million times. Some of the most popular ones ever used include:

#NowPlaying: Often shortened to #np, it was first used in 2007 in a tweet about Lavender Diamond's "Open your Heart." The hashtag has been tweeted more than one billion times over the years.

#FollowFriday: Since its birth in January 2009, #FF or #followfriday has been used over half a billion times.

#ThrowbackThursday: All those tweets of old high school pics and links to old favorite songs has been tweeted 120 million times. (That includes #tbt as well.)

The Most Tweeted...

TV Show: #TheWalkingDead

Movie: #StarWars

Sporting event: #WorldCup globally // #SuperBowl in the U.S.

Sports league: #NFL

Gaming: #???? or TreCru/Treasure Cruise in Japanese, with 269 million uses

According to Twitter, five of the biggest hashtags of the past ten years actually derived from music award shows, which have been synonymous with live-tweeting. Added up, these five have been used over 3 billion times: #MTVHottest, #MTVStars, #KCA, #iHeartAwards and #BestFanArmy. Some of the biggest hashtags used to vote for artists include: #BTSBBMAs, #EMABiggestFansJustinBieber, #EMABiggestFans1D, #vote5sos and #PushAwardsKathNiels.

Read Biz Stone's blog post here.


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