Hashtags might be ubiquitous on social media today, but Twitter didn’t originally think they were a good idea, according to its creator.
Silicon Valley techie and Twitter user Chris Messina came up with the hashtag 10 years ago as a way to label and collect discussions on the social media platform.
"We wanted a way of basically make it easier for Twitter to become more relevant, more topical," he told BNN in an interview.
Fittingly, Messina proposed the idea through a tweet. On August 2007, he asked other Twitter users whether they'd use the "#" symbol in front of words to mark group chats.
But the tool wasn't initially well-received by Twitter's creators. The day after his tweet, Messina visited the company's headquarters to sell them on it.
"And they were like 'that's a terrible, stupid idea'," he said.
Yet Messina continued to advocate for the hashtag, convincing developers who were working on tools for the platform to incorporate hashtags. Then Instagram implemented it as a way for its users to sort their photos out by subject.
"Through that and then adoption of other networks, it kind of just took off," Messina said.
The iconic social media tool is turning 10 this year as Twitter continues to struggle with declining advertising revenue amid strong competition.
Messina said the company's woes have a lot to do with a shift to video and image-based social media platforms like Snapchat, facilitated by higher-tech smartphones.
"The fact that Twitter is a verbal medium, a text-based medium it sort of puts it in this weird, awkward position," he said.
But even if Twitter struggles, the hashtag continues to thrive in other platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.