If you had asked anyone seven years ago about a hashtag and the power of what it could entail, we would probably all have laughed. But today, the hashtag is one of the most powerful connectors and symbols that have driven social movements to the general public.
In today's digital environment, and in creating social movements, the hashtag is hard to ignore or not incorporate into the social movement building. The hashtag is a powerful symbol showing unity, support, and action by a group of believers in an issue. This is a powerful concept that allows groups of people on a mass level to come together like they never could before.
Some, though, consider the role of the hashtag as a passive form of engagement. Passive it may be, but the power to amass social movements for good cannot be ignored. Let's explore the hashtag and the power it has with social movements.
The hashtag was first used in 1988 in Internet Relay Chat (IC). The purpose was to categorize items such as common themes, images, and discussions to help in the search for relevant content. Users of this chat protocol found that by separating keywords with hashtags, they could easily identify groups of items with the same purpose. This same approach and role is still active today in social media.
The first time the hashtag was used in conversation online through social media occurred in 2007 by Twitter user Chris Messina (see Figure 11.1). He used ...