#Fail: When hashtags go wrong on Twitter

The art of adding a hashtag to Twitter posts is now 10 years old, with the etiquette and conventions around their use changing over the decade.

Guidelines from social media gurus suggest not using too many tags in one post, nothing too long, and something that’s easy to read.

But hashtag errors made on Twitter in the early days remain as a lasting memorial to the word which is now so commonplace it is in both the Oxford English Dictionary and Official Scrabble Dictionary (14 points, btw).

Now about those #fails…

The use of hashtags for Twitter Q&As

Piers Morgan (Ian West/PA)
#AskPiers didn’t go to plan (Ian West/PA)

A PR company or other well-meaning person would innocently put forward someone of note to take part in a Q&A session with a hashtag like #AskBoris or #AskMertesacker.

The only problem was that nobody would take them seriously – resulting in questions like this gold for Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan.

A 2015 Q&A with Donald Trump, then just a potential presidential candidate, concluded with this pithy assessment.

Footballers often fell foul of Twitter Q&As, with former Manchester City and Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna among them.

Anyone who wrongs Arsenal fans is likely to feel their scorn – and the humble hashtag proved the perfect format to channel any pettiness.

#NowThatchersDead misread as Now That Cher’s Dead

Singer Cher (Ian West/PA)
Cher lives, sorry Margaret Thatcher (Ian West/PA)

The news that former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher had died caused much anguish for a most surprising group, all because of a misread hashtag.

Without capital letters to separate the words “Now Thatcher’s dead” was misread as “Now that Cher’s dead”, which caused a fair bit of worry for the singer’s fans.

Even if it was about the singer, it would have been a somewhat harsh start to the post-Cher era.

And it’s definitely not the only example of a hashtag being misread.

That’s “Susan album party” not “Su’s anal bum party”.

Even LeBron James was getting schooled in the early days

LeBron James (Charles Krupa/AP)
(Charles Krupa/AP)

While Stephen Hendry was still being pulled up on etiquette in 2017

No one wanted to read super long hashtags

Or see every word tagged like on Insta

Naturally, Twitter was the place to mull over Facebook’s introduction of the hashtag

And ponder why the digital symbol was crossing over to clothing

But one question remains…


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