The man who popularized hashtags on Twitter is quitting the platform

April 19, 2023, 3:39 PM UTC
Chris Messina, who came up with the idea of grouping topics by hashtags on Twitter, has said goodbye.
Christian Charisius/dpa | usage worldwide (Photo by Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

Chris Messina, one of the first users of Twitter and the person credited with suggesting the hashtag symbol be used to group themes and events, is walking away from the platform.

In a now-private Tweet, Messina left the social media site after his verification checkmark disappeared, citing frustrations with how the company has been run of late.

All tweets have been hidden and his bio now reads “Goodbye” with the wave emoji.

“My choice isn’t about the badge; it’s about everything that lead up to the badge and how it has been handled,” he wrote, according to a report from The Verge. “Whatever Twitter was before deserved more dignity and consideration than it’s received in the last six months.”

His departure is unlikely to be mourned by Twitter’s current owner Elon Musk, who has been outspoken about his dislike of hashtags in the past.

He wasn’t the first Twitter owner to have less than fond feelings about the phenomenon.

Messina made the initial suggestion on Aug. 23, 2007, writing up a blog post two days later to flesh out his thoughts on the idea. The site wasn’t too keen on the idea, with cofounder Evan Williams going so far as to tell Messina that hashtags were too niche to go mainstream.

They caught on anyway—and by 2009, Twitter gave in and formally adopted them, creating the Trending Topics area soon afterward.

Hashtags, though, weren’t through evolving, eventually walking the line of parodying themselves as people overused them (something Messina discouraged), but still remaining incredibly relevant on major social issues, such as the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements.

Other social media outlets have since adopted their use as well, perhaps none more so than Instagram.

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