Last week, Twitter’s Head of News, Vivian Schiller, called hashtags “arcane” and hinted that they might be on the way out. The comments, though not a sure sign that the hashtag will fall out of use anytime soon, still shocked many Twitter users. The social network is largely responsible for turning the hashtag into a household term, and many see the success of hashtags at connecting users based on common themes or discussion topics as one of Twitter’s biggest strengths.
Lately hashtags have been called into question on several fronts. They’ve been ridiculed by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, and they’ve earned Facebook — the newest player in the hashtag game — a significant level of hate.
And yet, hashtags are still widely used and appreciated, especially by active social media users. Mashable’s coverage of Shiller’s comments included a poll asking if Twitter should get rid of @ replies and hashtags. The results are pretty clear:
We asked our users if they regularly used hashtags and most responded yes, for Twitter and Instagram especially.
— Dennis M (@Dennis_R_M) March 20, 2014
~50% for Twitter only. RT @hootsuite: Question of the week: Do you use hashtags regularly? What for and on which social networks?
— Richard Conner (@HFS_Richard) March 24, 2014
— Benjamin Kepner (@BenjaminKepner) March 23, 2014
@hootsuite only on twitter, but sometime I click on hashtags that others use on FB
— Coldwell Banker (@CBhomes94596) March 20, 2014
— LASHOWROOM.COM (@LASHOWROOM) March 20, 2014
— Plan8 Studios (@plan8studios) March 20, 2014
Whether or not the hashtag is being phased out by the networks themselves, social media users clearly still appreciate their value. Rather than disappear, the hashtag will likely evolve alongside social media, as it has for the last five years. Check out this hashtag infographic from Offerpop, which illustrates big moments in the history of the hashtag as well as a few statistics about its users and uses.