A hashtag is a type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content; it allows easy, informal markup of folk taxonomy without need of any formal taxonomy or markup language. Users create and use hashtags by placing the number sign or pound sign # (also known as the hash character) in front of a string of alphanumeric characters, usually a word or unspaced phrase, in or at the end of a message. The hashtag may contain letters, digits, and underscores. Searching for that hashtag will yield each message that has been tagged with it. A hashtag archive is consequently collected into a single stream under the same hashtag. For example, on the photo-sharing service Instagram, the hashtag #bluesky allows users to find all the posts that have been tagged using that hashtag. Because of its widespread use, hashtag was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014. The term hashtag can also refer to the hash symbol itself when used in the context of a hashtag. Formal taxonomies can be developed from the folk taxonomy rendered machine-readable by the markup that hashtags provide; this process is called folksonomy.
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