ALL HAIL THE HASHTAG #, THE NEW ‘SUPER POWER’

According to Twitter the ‘#’ symbol, called a ‘Hashtag’, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. However, this symbol has evolved beyond just marking keywords and topics on Twitter, to something much greater; from enabling resource mobilization to fostering campaigns and revolutions that brought nations to their knees, and also united the world for a common purpose.

In January 2011 mass protests filled the streets of Egypt in an 18-day revolution against then President Hosni Mubarak, who kept the country under tight dictatorial rule for 30 years. Hundreds of thousands of people occupied flooded the Tahrir Square, Egypt, in what was an entirely new kind of uprising that shot through the entire Middle East. We saw firsthand how social media –marked by hashtags such as #Egypt #Cairo #Mubarak – could shape events of the world. The government eventually had to shut down the internet a few days after across the country.

According to an article by Ryan Holmes, CEO at HootSuite, “One woman, whom I never met and know only from one tweet sent through HootSuite was named Sonia Verma. Reporting from right in the heart of Tahrir Square—where protests had suddenly turned bloody—she tweeted: “They are ripping up banners to use as bandages #Egypt.” In fewer than 140 characters, she said volumes—and her message potentially reached and moved millions. That’s the power of social media.”

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