Threads started testing hashtags… without the hash

Instagram Threads has cheated Twitter / X in many ways and now it adds another feature that has been important to the Twitter experience for years: hashtags. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Threads will begin testing the ability to tag Threads topics to categorize posts by interest or theme. Even if users call the tag part using the “#” symbol, it will never show the “#” symbol when the tags are displayed. Instead, the tags appear as clickable blue links.

Testing will initially begin in Australia and the Threads team will then refine the experience based on user feedback, the company told TechCrunch. In his announcement, Zuckerberg wrote that more countries will be able to test the tags “soon.”

Image Credits: Poisons

To use the new tags, you tap the new # button in the Threads app or type the symbol using your keyboard followed by text. As you start typing, different hashtags will appear to help you complete your tag or you can create a new tag from scratch. After you select a 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 like Twitter hashtags but a bit more elegantly like dropping the symbol as a prefix.

Also unlike X, Threads only allows one tag per post at a time – a decision the company probably made to cut down on spam. Usually, spammers will put a post with many popular and trending tags to discover their posts in search. Beyond the spam factor, adding too many tags to a post becomes a pretty cringy thing to do otherwise, as it comes across as attention-seeking behavior.

However, this limitation can sometimes be a hindrance, because users want to find posts about events that do not have a specific hashtag or where several hashtags are used to discuss the topic – like the #AppleEvent and its variations. Or they might want to combine hashtags like #AppleEvent and #visionOS, for example, to find topics that are being discussed. In the current iteration of Threads tags, they only select one tag.

The feature was previously seen in development, but there are many discussions on whether or not there is a place for hashtags in the future of social networking because some see it as a relic from ancient times. The idea for the hashtag was suggested by tech veteran Chris Messina in a 2007 tweet as a way to group topics, trends and events. Eventually Twitter adopted the product feature 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 should evolve to meet the needs of modern web users.

Leave a comment