I am sure by now you all have heard that Twitter is in the middle of a risky process, attempting to revamp their company. They are looking at new ways to please investors and expand their already multimillion user site. However, their ideas might be a bit controversial for many avid Twitter fans.
To generate more users and encourage current users to stay active, Twitter is “experimenting with phasing out at @replies (and possibly hashtags) that many speculate are becoming outdated.” Due to the limitations of only 140 characters, Twitter originally attempted to popularize symbols like #’s and @’s in order generate discussions and allow for users to hide behind controversial topics. However, users are now (more than ever) extremely comfortable and confident on social media sites and are able to discuss topics and face on other users, without the need of these symbols.
As Ragy Thomas, founder and CEO of social media marketing platform Srpinklr, said: “Social media has normalized around the concepts that @replies and hashtags were intended to represent. Since people are now familiar with calling out other users and topics in a message stream, the argument goes, it’s no longer necessary to have special tags.”
So what happens if these symbols dissolve? Is this a beneficial move by Twitter?
In my opinion, I think phasing out these symbols is a stupid mistake, especially if Twitter is trying to gain more users. When new users first begin their Twitter journey, they often use the @ and # symbols to streamline various discussions, learn about what’s trending, and discover other users. In particular, these symbols help them become comfortable navigating their way around the site. If you get rid of these symbols, how will individuals know who to follow or what to tweet? In addition, hashtags (in particular) allow for the spread of news. The more people hashtag a topic, the more popular it becomes. So relevant news, such as the missing Malaysia airplane, quickly spreads. Simply favoriting and retweeting tweets will not be enough to pass on information.
The Twitter company believes that by eliminating such symbols, they are making the site more user-friendly. They believe that the symbols just get in the way and are confusing for members who do not understand how to use such symbols to begin with. However, as a Twitter user myself, I believe it does not take much brains to figure out how to correctly use a # or @. And again, I think these symbols do help new members become acquainted with what Twitter can provide for them.
My question then: If Twitter phases out such symbols, will they create new ways for users to communicate on Twitter?
The Twitter company is maturing…I get that. But I also believe that old habits never die easy. Therefore, I believe the use of such symbols will continue to be a trending activity. Consider this, the use of the @ and # symbols has expanded! Not only do you see these symbols on Twitter, but they are also on other social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. And it is not just social media sites where people are using these symbols. Individuals are texting them, snap chatting them, using them in their verbal conversations, etc.
My point: PEOPLE USE THESE SYMBOLS ALL THE TIME! Twitter, do not be dumb…do not get rid of them!
Out of curiosity, I YouTubed the word “hashtag” and I found two interesting videos that rant about how popular the hashtag symbol is and how everyone uses them. Check out these two funny videos!
To end, you guys know I love Jimmy Fallon…here are a few videos of his own personal contributions with the hashtag symbol. I wonder what he would say about Twitter’s attempt to kill hashtags??? You da bomb Fallon!