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ELC Los Angeles The Origins of the Hashtag #WhatDoesItMean April 20th, 2016

When you think of the hashtag symbol (#), what do you think of? Twitter? Instagram? Phone numbers? Do you wonder how the pound sign eventually became known as the hashtag?

Hashtags are used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many other social media platforms. The hashtag symbol occurs before a word or a group of words to gather other posts that are of that same topic. Using hashtags allows others to conveniently search for multiple posts of that same category. During holidays, you may see multiple posts that include #Christmas or #Thanksgiving. Sometimes people use #WorstPickupLinesEver when posting about, well, a really bad pickup line.

Where did it come from?

Twitter may have popularized the use of the hashtag, but they did not invent it! Back in 1988, the Internet Relay Chat, a network where users communicated with each other using different channels, used the symbol as a channel marker. For example, they would use #singles as a channel that had a network of single people chatting with each other. When Twitter started gaining popularity, a longtime user of the Internet Relay Chat proposed that Twitter should also use the symbol to gather popular topics and ideas. Not everyone believed that it would be a good idea, but hashtags are now used all around the world!

The true origin of the hashtag may never be known, but it is definitely clear that the hashtag is now one of the most recognizable symbols of our time.

Check out this hashtag video featuring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA

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