Hashtags have been a key feature of the Twitter experience for years now, offering users a quick and accessible way to search for, discover, and even just click through to topically relevant content that has been marked with a particular hashtag. However, it looks like Twitter may be about to change things as tests have been spotted live on the social network that includes hashtags that aren’t clickable links. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Social media specialist Jane Manchun Wong has highlighted a rather depressing test that she has discovered on Twitter. It looks like Twitter is experimenting with having clickable links that are no longer clickable unless they are branded hashtags.
The obvious reasoning we can deduce from this move is that Twitter is looking for new ways to monetize the traffic on its site by offering brands a new way to build exclusive communities around their clickable hashtags. Unfortunately, however, this move would just leave the rest of us without a key functionality we have grown used to on the app over a period of many years.
It has to be said at this point that this is just a test, and it does fit with Twitter’s modus operandi of scrambling around trying to find ways to monetize the huge amounts of traffic it sees and the engagement tweets generate. If we are honest, however, we think that this will just be another failed experiment as it would be a real step backwards for Twitter if it killed the utility of one of its most famous innovations just so the likes of Pepsi and Coke could have paid access to an exclusive version of a feature that used to be available to everyone. We’ll keep an eye on this story for you and keep you updated, but if all goes well this will be the last you’ll hear about this silly idea.