A quick note on hashtags. If you’re old enough, # is a pound sign. I’m not entirely sure what it did on touch-tone phones (because I’m apparently not old enough. As this note isn’t about that research, I’m not doing it this time around. Please leave notes and links in the comments regarding this gap in knowledge, if you feel so inclined), but the symbol predates the internet. Twitter was the first (as far as I know) major social media platform to being utilizing this symbol for a specific Internet era purpose. The use of # (known now as a hashtag) tells the internet to sort and archive the data surrounding the hashtag. So, when someone posts a Tweet to Twitter, if they include a # and then words connected to it, such as #GamerGate, the platform knows to sort that information into a searchable category. This tagging system allows for easier search through millions of bytes of data to find related information more easily. Going to Twitter and searching for #GamerGate will provide a plethora of tweets beginning with the most recent tweet using the hashtag.
Instagram and Facebook adopted the # as a method of categorizing the data on those platforms as well.