The Mighty #Hashtag


Today we’re going to be considering #hashtags, their origins and some of the most influential ones till date

Now, although the first hash symbol (#) was used as far back as the late 20th century (around 1988) on the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to label groups and topics available across the entire network, the actual #hashtag was not to be used until 2007, when Chris Messina took inspiration from the IRC and unleashed the first Twitter hashtag on the 23rd of August in that same year with the aim of gathering together all conversations regarding Barcamp, a technology conference gathering activity that spans worldwide.

?how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups.As in #barcamp [msg]??

That was the tweet from him, but even then the idea of hashtags still didn’t fully take off until the California wildfires of October 2007, when he reached out to California resident Nate Ritter who happened to be prolifically tweeting about the San Diego fire with a suggestion for him to use the hashtag #SanDiegofire for all relevant tweets.

Ritter’s tweets became so well known that Twitter users started using hashtags to group relevant content. In 2009, Twitter finally embraced them and introduced a search tool, so that users could see who else was using a particular hashtag. The following year Twitter introduced “Trending Topics,” which displays the most popular hashtags at a given time.

From there, hashtags were adopted by other platforms and became part of the internet lexicon. Instagram, which was launched in 2010, has used them from day one. Facebook added them in 2013. Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest also let users group content by simply using the # symbol.

Now that we know how they came to be part of the internet lexicon let’s consider five of the most influential hashtags of all time.

1) #Ferguson:

When Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed on the 9th of August, 2014, by Daren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. The shooting prompted protests that roiled the area for weeks

It’s not a surprise that #Ferguson is at the top of this list since it more than doubles the usage of the second most popular social issue hashtags. Since its first use, #Ferguson has been tweeted 27,200,000 times and has helped amplify the voices of a community that feared it would not be heard. Unrest in Ferguson, Mo., hit Americans’ Twitter timelines before the story seized cable news’s attention. Social media became a critical component of balanced coverage of the protests in Ferguson.

2) #EndSARS:

The #EndSARS campaign has been raging in Nigeria for quite a while now, with numerous reported incidents of extreme and unwarranted brutality, extra-judicial killings, torture, wanton arrests for bribes, extortion, kidnapping, harassment, disregard for human lives and other menacing conducts by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian police.

In numerous tweets and posts all across social media, countless Nigerians have bemoaned the idea that the police unit created to protect the people is turning out to be a greater hazard to society than the group is agitating for the scrapping of SARS, another group is calling for re-organization of dangers they are supposed to be guarding against.

Interestingly, while a group is agitating for the scrapping of SARS, another group is calling for re-organization of the outfit and yet another group share the beliefs of Force Public Relations Officer JimohMoshood, who in an interview said SARS had lived up to its duty of curbing violent crimes and condemned calls for its proscription.
“As we speak, SARS is doing fantastically well across the country in reducing incidents of robbery to the barest minimum… they are doing very, very well,”.

Currently, it seems that the outcries have, at the very least been taken into consideration considering the fact that a committee has been set up under the chairmanship of a retired ebullient Commissioner of Police, to appraise the workings of policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and make recommendations for improvement.

The committee had as members, policemen, Journalists and members of Non-governmental Organizations, NGO’s.



3) #TakeAKnee:

#TakeAKnee refers to a hashtag used regarding United States president Donald Trump’s comments about controversial San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who infamously does not stand for the American National Anthem as a means of protest against racial inequality and police brutality. During a speech made in Alabama, Trump called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” who should be “fired.” Many NFL officials, players and fans rallied around Kaepernick by issuing statements about the President’s comments and engaging in protest during games by taking a knee and/or locking arms during the national anthem, while others refused to leave the locker room during the song. Supporters of the president, however, said they would boycott the NFL over the controversy.

On September 22nd, 2017, President Donald Trump delivered a speech in Huntsville, Alabama in support of Senator Luther Strange. During his speech, Trump made several comments in reference to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, calling anyone who disrespects the American flag a “son of a bitch” who should be “fired.”

On September 24th, numerous players and teams responded to Trump’s comments. During the national anthem, many locked arms in solidarity, kneeled or stayed in their locker rooms. Members of the Baltimore Raven, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots stood with their arms locked or kneeled during the National Anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people of colour,” Kaepernick said in a press conference after first sitting out during the anthem. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder.”

The NFL eventually posed a solution to the conflict when they set up a new law that stated clearly that they no longer required players to remain on the field during the National Anthem, stating that if players wish to protest the anthem they may remain in the locker room during the song. Players on the field will be required to stand. However, if they protest on the field, for example, by kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner,” the league reserves the right to punish teams for the actions of their players.  According to the policy, a team will be fined if they do not stand while on the field. Additionally, teams may come up with their own disciplinary measures for the policies.

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