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Five Twitter Hashtags That Almost Drove Us Mad

The hashtag, the symbol attached to keywords to tag topics online, is celebrating 10 years of making social media just a bit more navigable.

The sign has preceded the keywords that mark out all major events around the world since 2007, when it got its first outing on Twitter. Before Twitter came along, no-one really knew what the point of the hash key was on the keyboard (except for maybe computer programmers). The social media network transformed its use, making it a way to tag tweets and the hashtag became a thing. Before long, it had spread to other social media including Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

It was Chris Messina, an American designer and social media expert, who originally proposed using the hash sign (#) — pound sign in American English — to group tweets by subject. He made the original suggestion in a tweet posted on August 23, 2007 before elaborating in a post online a couple of days later. He launched the first ever hashtag, #barcamp, to identify a set of conferences focused around technology and the web that he helped organise.

Today, ten years later, 125 million hashtags are exchanged every day, used to launch massive online campaigns, to keep track of an event, to express solidarity for victims and survivors of terror attacks, to express opinions, for humour, to track stunts, word games, photos, animated images, specific topics on the weather, celebrities, football matches, and many other issues.

We have compiled a list of the most memorable Twitter hashtags which were all the rave (and probably still are):

#FollowFriday or #FF

This was the first hashtag that really took off on Twitter. People used it to promote the handles of “tweeps” who they thought their followers would like to follow, as a way of introducing new users to the social media platform, or just to gain new followers. The first #FollowFriday was on 16 January 2009 and there have been more than half a billion #FF (or #followfriday) uses since then.


The Dress

Is it blue and black, or white and gold?
It all started over a photo of a dress and the world could not just agree on what colours it was. The debate moved from social media, to reality, and even to research labouratories. By the time a huge scientific experiment was conducted about how humans see colour, most people had already gotten into lasting arguments with family members and friends they didn’t agree with. Two years later, this debate still rumbles on.


Michelle Obama holding a placard with #BringBackOurGirls

In April 2014, the abduction of 276 school girls at Chibok in northeastern Nigeria by Islamists from Boko Haram led to the posting of this hashtag. Celebrities from all over the world, including the then US first lady Michelle Obama, used it to draw attention to the fight against Boko Haram, which at the time seemed to have Nigeria’s army on the backfoot. People posted pictures of themselves holding a placard with the hashtag written boldly on it.

It all started with this video.

The #IceBucketChallenge, which went viral in 2014, involved dumping a bucket of ice water over a person’s head and then posting the video on social media. It got popular when ALS sufferer Pete Frates had freezing water poured over him. This challenge helped raise $100 million to fund the fight against Motor Neurone Disease


#BlackLivesMatter protest

#BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime. It went viral during a wave of protests over the deaths of several black people at the hands of the police in the United States. It was a digital rallying cry just like #BringBackOurGirls

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