31.08.2017 Celebrating ten years of the hashtag

Believe it or not, the hashtag (#) is ten years old this month.

Of course the symbol itself, known as the pound sign or hash symbol, has been around a lot longer, but it was a decade ago that it was first used on Twitter to tag topics of interest.

American tech evangelist Chris Messina suggested using the symbol to make it easier for users to search for content. Though Twitter did not immediately adopt the practice, users quickly took it up.


Since then the hashtag has become a true global phenomenon, migrating from Twitter to other social networks including Instagram and Facebook and embedding itself in popular culture.

In doing so the hashtag has freed itself from being merely a search tool to become a way of discussing events, from global disasters and awareness campaigns to cultural celebrations and television shows.

To celebrate its tenth birthday here are some facts and figures about the hashtag and some of our favourites.



An average of 125 million hashtags are shared every day on Twitter.

The most Tweeted hashtag in 2007 was used around 9,000 times.

The most-used hashtag so far in 2017 was used over 300 million times.



The five most popular hashtags of all time:

#blacklivesmatter – The international protest movement was led by Twitter.

#TheDress – Is it white and gold? Clearly not, get your eyes tested.

#CupforBen – Dad’s plea to find a replacement cup for his autistic son.

#icebucketchallenge – Raised millions for ALS.

#HeForShe – The UN’s gender equality campaign.   




Originally used ironically to ‘complain’ about issues faced by people living in the developed world, the #firstworldproblems hashtag was hijacked and turned on its head by the charity Water is Life, who used it in an ad campaign to highlight the plight of people living in third world countries like Haiti.


Everybody loves a bit of nostalgia, and what’s better than sharing some precious memories through social media on a Throwback Thursday?


Carter wanted chicken nuggets, so asked US fast food chain Wendy’s how many retweets it would take for him to get free chicken nuggets for a year. The reply was: “18 million”. So he turned to Twitter for help and with the powerful hashtag behind him, a Twitter legend was born. 


Definitely our favourite hashtag gaffe, Susan Boyle’s record label really should have given more thought to how ‘Susan album party’ would look when contracted into a single word…