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Social Media Annoyances: Abuse of Twitter Hashtags

Let me start by saying that I love Twitter. I was hesitant to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, but I’m beyond glad that I did. Even though I resisted this idea of just “following” and be limited by what I wanted to say, Twitter is now my go-to social network.

I scan my Twitter feed for news stories, updates from my favorite bands, and my friends’ statuses. I’ve become quite a pro at sharing my thoughts in 140 characters or less. I also appreciate that Twitter doesn’t change their layout every thirty seconds (I’m looking at you, Facebook).

But even within this shiny, happy social network, Twitter has an ugly, black lining.

And that would be their hashtags.

Sad Raccoon

Congratulations. Your misused hashtags built this raccoon’s cage.

There are times when I find hashtags useful. During the plethora of natural disasters over the past two years, hashtags were great for catching real-time news and reactions. The hashtag was invaluable to my acquisition of my HP Touchpad. The hashtags’ transition to trending topics helps see what the world is talking about – even if the world is 99 out of 100 times talking about the Jonas Brothers or Demi Lovato. I don’t even mind when people put a short string of text behind a hashtag for comedic effect.

But then it gets bad.

First of all, spammers should be tarred and feathered for promoting your affiliated nonsense by jamming your links and/or bot accounts with trending topics and popular hashtags. I have a piece of information for you: people know what bots look like and they won’t be following you. If you are just an unhelpful presence on a quest for information, the only new followers you’ll be getting are more bots. Which is very helpful to your cause, I’m sure.

Second of all, people that tweet with four or more hashtags, what is your deal? What could you possibly have to say in 140 characters #that #is #relevant #to #six #searches? More often than not, your hashtags don’t even refer to what I’m searching for.

Wrong Tweet

Everything about this is wrong. 9 hashtags, really?

Third of all, those of you that use more than six words in your hilarious hashtags, I don’t know what you’re saying. It just looks like a jumble of letters that you were too lazy to separate.

Thankfully, Twitter has taken steps to weed out the spam by giving you the option to look at tweets categorized as “Top,” “All,” or “With links.” However, unless a column of spam is everything you want in life, stay away from “with links.” “Top” is generally a safe bet, but a decent number of spam and irrelevant tweets still slip through.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter could call me out for breaking my third rule in the past, but I have grown as a person, and so should you. Only you, my fellow Twitter users, can be proactive in helping Twitter become a better site for searching for pertinent information and not annoying our peers. Let’s focus on etiquette, and make the hashtags work for us and not against us.

IMAGE CREDIT TO HALFBROWN AND BLUENOSE CANOEHEAD.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Peemo

    I try to explain Twitter to friends who aren’t on it and they look at me disgusted.

    I ‘ve converted a few but so many remain in Twitter dark and relish in their pokes on Facebook.

    Viva el Twitter!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I think it’s hard for others to detach from the familiar, even if Twitter is amazing. Even with the spambots and hastag abusers, it’s still my favorite social network. Glad to see another Twitter supporter here!

  2. JPorretto

    I contribute to the cleanliness of Twitter by not using it =) All you crazy kids and your wanting to always know what’s going on at every moment. The older I get, the LESS I want to know what’s going on. Some one please just give me the bullet points and skip the minutiae and second to second drama.

    …AND GET OF MY LAWN!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Jeff! Your (lack of a) contribution to the Twitter universe is greatly appreciated! One less tweet of non-relevance to wade through in cyberspace.

    • Peemo

      Hey, I’m the crotchety old bastard here!

      Get off MY lawn!

    • Amanda

      hahahaha I feel the same way Jeff–except that I do use and enjoy Twitter from time to time. ;-)

  3. amy

    Couldn’t agree with you more Mandy! I hate reading through my feed and seeing a bunch of #cool #awesome #random #silly #weird tags on the tweets. Ugh! Clutters everything up.

    Great post!!

    • Amanda

      So true! I remember when I first joined Twitter. I was asking you girls..uh, how do I read this? WTH is this junk?? lol. I get it now…but so much of it is not needed. Great post Mandy!

  4. Brittany Rubinstein

    My general rule is if your hashtags exceed half the length of your actual post, it’s too much. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. lol.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Haha, thanks, Brittany!

      I like your rule. It’s basically the condensed version of my little rant here. Thanks for stopping by to comment! And hopefully, one day, the hastag problem will get under control.

  5. Rachel

    Oh no! Not the raccoon! :(

    Great post Mandy, as usual. Agreed all around–even as a very casual Twitter user, I sometimes get annoyed by the excessive use of spammy hashtags. That’s cool that Twitter has started categorizing tweets to make it easier to weed out the spam ones; I didn’t know that!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      That poor raccoon. I hope that people will see what they are doing to the little guy.

      There is probably just as much spam as there always was, but it is nice that you can filter through (most of) it. Definitely one of the better Twitter upgrades over the years.

  6. Dave Kokandy

    I don’t know. I think it would be much better if other social networking sites had hashtags. With a site like twitterfall, it’s possible to follow tweets on a subject using hashtags in real time. They can also connect disparate threads in one place. I could imagine watching a game between #ateam and #bteam and referring to a play that was an #epicfail. Maybe as long as there’s more content than duration, it would be okay. But twitter makes it possible to follow content from all around the community and the world in a way that Facebook & G+ cannot match. G+ has the search feature now, but I still like the idea of user-designated tags. The ability to be included simultaneous ongoing worldwide asynchronous chats is really neat to me and might justif #WickedMultitagging.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hey, Dave! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I’m not saying that the hashtag is bad. On the contrary, I love hashtags. They’re, as you said, great for wanting to see a particular stream of information. I claim Twitter as my favorite social network because of this exact reason. I have no problem with multiple tags as long as they are relevant to the content of the tweet. And I can cite multiple global events when I was on Twitter and reading about everyone’s reaction, because it was really neat to read a global opinion about the earthquakes in Japan, the current occupation of Wall Street, etc.

      It’s when spammers and/or people desperate to get their content seen start abusing the hashtag system is what grinds my gears. It’s the double-edged sword of the hashtag. Perhaps I’m trying to have my cake and eat it by asking for only relevant tweets on a particular subject.

      Also, I hadn’t heard of Twitterfall before. Now that’s an excellent website and one that I will frequent often now!

  7. Eric

    I’ve never had a Twitter account nor spent a minute on the website, Mandy, but the humor makes for some good reading, as always! #livesunderarock

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Even if you #liveunderarock and don’t use social media, I’m glad to hear that you still found this a humorous read.

  8. Jill Tooley

    YES! Thank you for finally addressing this issue. Hashtags are wonderful when they’re used properly, but why do Twitter users feel the need to use them every other word? It’s a shame because misuse really takes away from their entire purpose in the first place.

    Here‘s another good rant about hashtags – my favorite (or would it be my least favorite?) is #5, “The Princess Bride Element.”

    Kick ass post! :D

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Oh my goodness, that’s a wonderful rant post about hashtags. And they mentioned The Princess Bride? Win. Pure win. Well, win based off a whole bunch of #epicTwitterfail.

  9. Kory

    I only had to scam this article to understand and completely agree with what’s being said. Too many people are misusing as well as abusing the use of hashtags on twitter. The way I’ve always seen hashtags as being useful and their necessary use is to have a direct link to an open topic such as #thismorning for example.. clicking that would direct you to everyone that is having a conversation about and referring to what’s on the ‘This Morning’ TV show. However, since hashtags have become ‘the thing’ for youth to jump onto these days, everyone seems to have misinterpreted its use and it grates on me more than anything on Twitter! I see constant pointless hashtags at the end of tweets like #lastnightwassooogood #cantwaittogetplasteredagain and #tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired ..it’s like, hang on a sec, the whole point of hashtags in the first place has now become completely meaningless to the people that use it because they’ve completely misunderstood what it was meant for in the first place. My guess is, anyone that hashtags on Twitter has no idea why it’s always a direct link to that particular tag they’ve just written. Maybe I’m just thinking about it too much, but to me, this is all I can say it appears to be!

  10. Peter

    I have friends that are not on twitter similar to comment from JPorretto. They think Twitter is still about updating useless information. Thats still part of it but the major reason Twitter is usefull for most is as a News Feed. A news feed that is personalised and curated by yourself based on themes your interested in. Those not on twitter just dont get that. And I dont get why people love facebook so much..

  11. Tom L

    This is a tough one because while I agree – I disagree.

    I agree that something like this:

    #I #love #my #tweets #and #hashtags

    Is absurd. Furthermore you are right – it serves no purpose. But I almost NEVER see tweets like that. And when I do I give benefit of the doubt and assume the tweeter is new.

    What is missing from your worthy analysis is the simple fact that hashtags are like files – allowing us all to find which file we want and need, while leaving the balance to those who have divergent needs.

    As to the jumble of letters – come on! Are you telling me people can’t wend your way trough 140 characters with, say, six hashtags? That much I find hard to swallow.

    I also have to say that spammers do have their place. I often delete spam – but now and again emails come my way with links to useful sites – #like #this #one. Without spam, I’d never have found you…and after reading a half dozen of your blogs, I bow to the God of spam for sending me here!

    Tom

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