Hashtag Anniversary
Credit: Ingrid Frahm

How many hashtags are too many? A decade ago, this wasn’t a point of contention.

In fact, today, Wednesday, Aug. 23, marks the 10th anniversary of the hashtag, and quite honestly, we can’t think of a better tool for sharing just how much you love #fashion #poolfloats #hydrangeas #PSL #ModernFamily #TaylorSwift #Reputation. So how did this now-beloved character (it's official name is "Octothorp," by the way) go from keyboard underdog to Internet hot shot?

According to the Internet and CNN, former Google designer Chris Messina took to Twitter in 2007 (before people were known for taking to Twitter) to pose the question that changed our fate: “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp msg]?”

Sounds brilliant, but why didn’t he patent this idea once it took off? “I had no interest in making money (directly) off hashtags. They are born of the Internet, and should be owned by no one,” he wrote in a Quora thread. “The value and satisfaction I derive from seeing my funny little hack used as widely as it is today is valuable enough for me to be relieved that I had the foresight not to try to lock down this stupidly simple but effective idea.”


Since then, Messina’s “funny little hack” has been used to track major global events that Internet users are particularly interested in (#GameofThrones #GOT). If a hashtag’s trending on Twitter, you know it’s turning into water cooler fodder. Basically, hashtags have been used to simply express interest in a topic and later share dialogue with other users wanting to delve deeper.

They’ve also been used to push social agendas and spark change. A hashtag we’ve seen fill up our Twitter feeds lately? #TrumpResign.

#OOTD has been reportedly used over 120 million times in the past decade along with #ThrowbackThursday and #TBT. The most-tweeted about film of 2017 was #WonderWoman, and the most-hashtagged movie and TV show ever are #StarWars and #TheWalkingDead. Awards shows are also hugely popular, sparking #iHeartAwards and #MTVHottest. Each day, an average of 125 million hashtags are shared on Twitter.

Some of our favorites? For one, #LoveWins, the tag users across the world took on in 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared gay marriage a constitutional right. FYI, that same year, people were also very interested in #OneDirection, #ISIS, #BlackLivesMatter, and #ArianaGrande.

Something that divided us all? #TheDress. It's obviously black and blue.

As The Washington Post pointed out in 2016, certain tags that really moved us in the past decade include #IceBucketChallenge, #Sandy, #Ferguson, #PrayforJapan, #YesAllWomen, and #GivingTuesday, most tied to helping others after a tragedy. #BringBackOurGirls became popular too after news broke of a group of Nigerian girls kidnapped by a militant Islamist group.

People have also told hilarious stories in 140 characters or less, using hashtags like #MomTexts, #MisheardLyrics, #InappropriateFuneralSongs, and #MySexLifeinMovieTitles.

Today’s buzzy one? #Hashtag10.