Twitter and hashtags

Authored by: Neil Sadler

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138665569
eBook ISBN: 9781315619811
Adobe ISBN:


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The entry is divided into two parts, the first focusing on Twitter and the second on hashtags. The first section begins with an overview of Twitter’s defining characteristics as a social networking site before moving to a consideration of communication practices on Twitter. Two key factors shaping communication on the site are examined: Twitter’s technical affordances, and cultural norms. This is followed by a discussion of the extent to which Twitter has democratised communication while also, in other respects, replicating and reproducing offline hierarchies. The final part of the first section explores the relationship and interactions between citizens and corporations, and citizens and states on the site, through a consideration of digital labour and the commodification of communication, and Twitter’s potential as an organisational tool for oppositional movements and method of surveillance for repressive states. The second section begins with a brief definition of hashtags, before examining the main uses to which hashtags have been put, on and off Twitter. These include: as markers in folksonomies; a factor facilitating searchable talk; a tool for connective storytelling; a means to mark identity and affiliation; as rhetorical devices.

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