Advertisement
SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Threads rolls out hashtags...without the hash symbol

Instagram's Threads app has been duping Twitter/X in a number of ways, and today it's adding one more feature that's been core to the Twitter experience for years: hashtags. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Threads will begin testing the ability to tag topics on Threads to categorize posts by interest or theme. Though users will call up the tags feature using the "#" symbol, it won't actually display the "#" symbol when the tags are shown. Instead, the tags will appear as clickable blue links.

The test will initially begin in Australia and the Threads team will then iterate on the experience based on user feedback, the company tells TechCrunch. In his announcement, Zuckerberg wrote that more countries will be able to test tags "soon." [Update, 12/7/23: Tags are now rolling out globally.]

Image Credits: Threads

To use the new tags, you'll tap a new # button in the Threads app or type the symbol using your keyboard followed by text. As you start typing, various tags will appear to help you autocomplete your tag or you can create a new tag from scratch. After you choose the tag and publish your post, anyone can click on the tag to see other related posts on the same topic. In other words, they work just like Twitter's hashtags but are a bit more elegant as they drop the symbol as the prefix.

Also unlike X, Threads will only allow one tag on a post at a time -- a decision the company likely made to cut down on spam. Often, spammers will stuff a post with many popular and trending tags to get their posts discovered in search. Beyond the spam factor, adding multiple tags to a post has become a somewhat cringey thing to do otherwise, as it appears to be attention-seeking behavior.

Still, this limitation could be a hindrance at times, as users will want to find posts about events that don't have a single defined hashtag or where multiple hashtags are being used to discuss the topic -- like #AppleEvent and its variations. Or they may want to combine hashtags like #AppleEvent and #visionOS, for example, to narrow down on topics being discussed. In the current iteration of Threads tags, they'll have to pick only one tag.

The feature was earlier spotted in development, but there has been much discussion as to whether or not hashtags have a place in the future of social networking as some see them as a relic from older times. The idea for the hashtag was proposed by tech veteran Chris Messina in a 2007 tweet as a way to group topics, trends and events. Twitter eventually adopted the feature in the product and then other social platforms did the same.

But with Threads, Meta has the ability to rethink existing social conventions and experiment with how they may need to evolve to meet the needs of modern web users.

Says Messina is not thrilled with the change. Snarked Messina in a post on Threads, "This is wild — Threads is actively repressing/suppressing the octothorpe (#). Why not remove the $ prefix in front of numbers too? We know it's a number. We don't need that context. It's _inferred_"

With the launch of Threads globally, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said:

"With tags we're trying something simple and slightly new. No # marks, support for multiple words, *only one* tag per post, and the tag view *is* the search view. The hope is this design focuses tags more on communities and less on engagement hacking, and does so while keeping @threads simple and easy to use. We'll see how it goes..." 

12/7/23, updated with Threads' global availability