The 10 Most Powerful Hashtags of All Time

4 years ago

I came back to work after a three-day social media vacation … to be thunderstruck by the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which evolved on May 24 as a discussion of misogyny related to the the shootings in Isla Vista, California. The sheer number of people, telling their stories and their truths about what we face as women in the world, is incredible.

Of course, with the work I do here at BlogHer and on the social web, I am always thinking about how we use hashtags. And on reflecting or thinking about or planning BlogHer's Tenth Anniversary, we here at work have ben discussing what are the hashtags that have meant the most to us. But the outpouring of #YesAllWomen moved me to turn inward. I combed through my own Twitter archive, looking for the hashtags I've been moved to tweet about, and the ones I retweeted.

1. #YesAllWomen

Bustle reports that the hashtag caught on as a reaction to the #NotAllMen hashtag, in which (mostly) men stated that they don't share the anti-woman views of the Isla Vista gunman. Most of the tweets are to the point that no, not all men are misogynists … but all women have to prepare as if they are. Women are sharing stories of everything from double standards to objectification to harassment to violence, and how they negotiate the world because of this threat:

Mashable reported that the hashtag has accompanied 1.2 million tweets as of yesterday morning.

via Mashable

See also: 365FeministSelfie, #Steubenville 2. #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen

After reading and reacting emotionally to the #YesAllWomen tweets, the next thing that came to my mind was, "What are the women of color in my stream saying about this hashtag?"

#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen really made me examine my thoughts and assumptions about feminism and about race. It made me ask myself why I don't speak about it publicly about race and culture as much as I should (the fear of embarrassing myself or of angering people is a privilege; choosing not to talk about the issue is a privilege). I started following a lot of really great women because of that hashtag:

You can see that #YesAllWomen owes a huge debt to #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen in the form its narrative has taken. I hope the conversation evolves.

See also: #NotYourAsianSidekick, #CancelColbert, #RacismEndedWhen, #SmartBlackWomenOfTwitter (and all the "Smart Women of Twitter" hashtags) 3. #Egypt

The Arab Spring first ignited on social media in Tunisia, and many countries used Twitter to report protests and injustices and spread awareness of their causes. But #Egypt was the number-one hashtag on all of Twitter in 2011.

See also: #Syria , #Bahrain, #jan25, #Tunisia, #Libya, #Yemen

4. #BostonStrong

One of the best things about social media is that it can bring people together immediately: in a warning to people in a particular are about upcoming weather or breaking news, and in a show of support for those affected by people from all around the world. #BostonStrong, which emerged in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, is both of those things, along with a statement of local pride.

See also: #HurricaneSandy, #PrayForNewtown,
#snowmageddon, #OklahomaStrong 5. #OccupyWallStreet

The movement protesting income inequality spread globally, with different locations having their own hashtags. But the original took place in New York, and was specifically directed to the financial center.

See also: #JusticeforTrayvon

6. #TBT

In the delightful words of BlogHer Entertainment Editor Deb Rox:

On a personal level, I've fallen in love with #tbt. A weekly focus on the past is a respite from the now-now-NOW of social media, and the posts are usually personal, non-promotional ,and quirky. I especially love the posts that fall way back to childhood or life in the '80s and '90s, and I see a lot of people having fun with newly scanned images peeled from old family photo albums.

I like that the past gives us a way to make many of the cultural and class barriers and ideal-life conceits that are present in contemporary photosharing fall away, and older photos offer cool glimpses into the lives of friends we've made as adults, or to our own relationships with our own upbringing or unfortunate fashion choices. I'm not a very nostalgic person usually, so the fact that I look forward to these posts moves me. It's cool that #tbt has become an institution.

See also: #FollowFriday and #Caturday 7. #tcot

From BlogHer Contributing Editor Erica Holloway:

The most relevant and earliest hashtag I recall is #tcot (which stands for "top conservatives on Twitter"). I think seeing it made me look up what hashtags were and why they were used. It's become a way for conservatives to easily recognize each other.

See also: Fem2 8. #BringBackOurGirls

The Internet's response to the 276 Nigerian girls who were abducted by an extremist group almost certainly played a part in the U.S. declaration that the group, Boko Haram, is now considered a foreign terrorist organization and its promise to help in the search for the missing girls. It's also sparked debate on the role of social media in foreign policy.

See also: #Kony2012, Benghazi 9. #ButHonestlyMonica

When blogger Monica Gaudio discovered that Cook's Source magazine had published her content without permission—or even notification, she contacted them to request an apology and a donation to the Columbia School of Journalism. She received a reply that read, in part, like this:

But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally.

…. And the Internet—led by BlogHer Co-Founder Elisa Camahort Page!—took the time to school each other about copyright and public domain.

See also: #binderfullofwomen, #AskJenny 10. #Immaletyoufinish

Social media allows everyone to interact with celebrities and comment on pop culture, rather than relying on the opinions of a few critics. Though the relentless snark can be overpowering, there's no doubt that celebrity hashtag memes have power.

#immaletyoufinish—taken from Kanye West's interruption of Taylor Swift's 2009 VMA acceptance speech entered the vernacular in a big way—and it's seeing a resurgence due to his wedding to Kim Kardashian this weekend.

It may, in fact, be the most powerful pop culture meme of all time.

See also: #tigerblood, #winning, #whatJayZsaidtoSolange, AngelinaJoliesRightLeg, #RoyalBaby, #BobCostasPinkeye (and a million more)

Of course, this is my very subjective list. Which hashtags have meant the most to you? Or do you believe they're all "hashtag activism," and not powerful at all?

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