What does hashtag actually mean


As hashtag denotes a word or a word chain which is preceded by a hash sign, i.e. a hash sign (#). A hashtag is used for communication within social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Users of these networks can add a hash to words (e.g. #word growth), which makes them clickable for other users. A click on such a hashtag would then lead to an overview page, which then bundles all messages in chronological order that have been provided by users with this hashtag. This type of keywording occurs within a running text, such as in the sentence:"My #life is wonderful.", being clicked on the hashtag #Life would lead to an overview page that summarizes all messages that have been tagged with this hashtag.


The term is formed from the English nounhash for the character double cross (#), for which also the name Rhombus is common, as well as the English word Daythat deals with mark translates. So this is literally about a Marking with a double cross. And this translation actually describes the actual function quite well: words or even strings of words are provided with a diamond and henceforth serve as clickable links to search the respective network for exactly this marking. They become meta tags for all hashtags of this type.

Basically, such hashtags are used to to search the respective network for the highlighted term and to use it to write about the same topic with other users. For example, multiple users could use the hashtag #Use the Bundestag election and thus indirectly connect with each other on the overview page that is now linked. Particularly in the case of major media events, there is an extraordinary flood of news because many users comment on the event.

However, hashtags are also used to to put a message in a certain context without actually making explicit reference to the tagged content. So the sentence would be:"Finally at home #broken#end of working day#tired." So not primarily designed to join the discussion on the terms broken, end of working day and tired to participate but would make the statement Finally at home just reinforce with the selected attributes. The message would still appear on the respective overview pages and would be visible to other users here.

Hashtags in the social networks

Such markings became known primarily through so-called social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Co. Here it is primarily the microblogging service - the name comes from the fact that only 140 characters are allowed per message - Twitter, even if it did not invent the hash mark that made the term popular.

Most social networks allow their users to use hash signs that can be placed immediately in front of any word to put such markings and thus categorize and tag the messages sent. The rule here is that every term that is immediately provided with the pound sign, i.e. a hash mark, is also tagged and therefore clickable.

Before this method caught on in 2009, there were other tagging methods that were used in chats, websites or in social networks. However, that turned out to be tag of words in the immediate body of the text and thus from the actual message as particularly suitable, prevailed and was subsequently implemented as a function in almost all networks.

The short message service Twitter introduced the clickable hashtags in July 2009, the Google+ network followed suit in 2011, whereupon the hashtag reached the business network LinkedIn in February 2013 and the Facebook network in June 2013 and was implemented. The picture networks Pinterest and Instagram also use this option of keywording, which means that users can categorize the images they upload to the network and use them to find images that have the same tag.

Live example via Twitter (#Life)

As already described, the use of such markings enables the exchange in the social networks on a specific topic. If the respective word is currently popular in the social channels, new messages can arrive every second. In the case of less popular word sequences, the respective overviews sometimes remain almost empty for months.

Accordingly, it is up to the users of a network which words hashed and which never trending become. To illustrate this with a specific example, the following is an overview that shows in real time which messages on the microblogging service Twitter are related to the hashtag #Life were discontinued. You can follow this live - if you now send a tweet (message on Twitter) containing the character string #Contains life, your message will appear in the following overview:

Origin of the hashtag

Already the text-based chat system IRC, the discussion rounds with any number of participants in such a way specified Channels (Channels) and was broadcast on the Internet as early as 1988, used the pound sign to identify the various channels. For example, a channel name could look like this: #help or something #play.

The idea that individual discussion groups or thematic overviews are marked with a double cross is therefore already several decades old. However, it was the lawyer and internet activist Chris Messina who posted the following tweet on Twitter on August 23, 2007 and thus contributed to the birth of the later hashtag, as it is understood today:

how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]
Translation: What do you think of the use of a # (pound sign) for groups. For example #barcamp [message]?

The above tweet can therefore be regarded as a stumbling block. From then on, individual words were increasingly tagged with a hashtag and could thus be found using the Twitter search. So who, for example, in the search mask of the network #Typed in game, all messages were displayed that contained the noungame combined with the diamond and was able to search the flood of news for a specific topic.

Twitter responded About two years after Messina's suggestion and to a certain extent automated the process and so since July 1, 2009, all strings that did not contain special characters and spaces were clickable and started a search for all tweets that used this hashtag in descending chronological order to be presented in an overview (Note: The original tweet from Chris Messina can still be viewed by the way. See: twitter.com).

Hashtags and trends

In most networks it can be read out which hashtags are currently used particularly frequently by users. In this context, one speaks colloquially that a topic is trending. As a result, it can be seen which contents and topics are currently enormously popular and are increasingly discussed in the respective countries, regions or groups.

For example, the short message service Twitter already shows which topics are currently trending, making it possible to draw conclusions about current topics and events. Especially in the case of major media events, numerous users usually write about them via hashtag. In some cases, even faster and more up-to-date information can be obtained on any topic, even if it is of course not editorially checked are and are to be judged critically and questionable.

A possibility, The website offers the opportunity to see current trends trendsmap.com. The hashtags that are currently used worldwide via Twitter are displayed live here and can be viewed for every city, every place and every region. The service has been continuously developed and updated since 2009.

Brief overview: The most important thing about the term at a glance
  • A hashtag is the combination of a word or string of words and a pound sign. Such a hashtag is used for communication within social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. and is clickable. Who on a hashed Word clicks takes you to an overview that bundles all the messages that are tagged with the selected word.
  • It has been customary for decades to mark certain groups or communication channels with hash symbols. However, it was probably the microblogging service Twitter that significantly promoted the use of the symbol and made it popular, so that numerous other networks soon implemented the function.
  • If a large number of users use a certain hashtag at the same time, trends can be identified, which is especially the case with major media events and disasters. At events, a certain combination is often given that should be used to exchange ideas in order to unite as many voices as possible and, through this bundling, appear in the trends of a country and thus attract further attention.

  • Note: In order to tag words, it is necessary that they appear immediately after the hash sign. Some networks also stipulate that there are no spaces or special characters in the hashtag. With this in mind: have fun trying it out