Monday, October 1, 2012

Hijacking #oow - the problem with hashtag success

I have talked before about the issues involved in setting up an event hashtag, most recently when I noted that the official hashtag for Oracle OpenWorld 2012 is #oow rather than #oow12.

But during this morning's keynotes, @oracleopenworld issued a request that people use #oow12 instead, and apologized for "the hashtag issues."

Since I had just started to check the Twitter stream for #oow, I didn't know what @oracleopenworld was talking about, but I figured that perhaps people were latching on to the #oow stream for other purposes. And no, it wasn't Marc Benioff - at least that would be relevant.

It didn't take me long to find this interesting tweet:

Talk about hitting every popular hashtag at once! Not only did they include #oow (which frankly probably isn't a trending topic to much of the Twitterverse), but also included both #obama2012 and #tcot, throwing in #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth for good measure.

Ordinarily this would not be much of an issue - Twitter spam is all over the place - except for one little itty bitty detail.

I wasn't watching the YouTube stream from Oracle OpenWorld this morning, but I was watching it last night, and between presentations, the huge screens inside Moscone Center Hall D would occasionally display tweets with the #oow or #oracle hashtags. And because people like me were watching the proceedings online, not only were these tweets displayed to the thousands of people in Hall D, but were also displayed to the even larger numbers of people watching remotely.

The whole thing plays on ego. The organizers of an event want to immerse people in the event, so they display all the mentions of an event's hashtags. The attendees at the event want to be displayed, so they pump content on to the display. Then the spammers step in, hijack the hashtag, and sell "Obama phones," whatever they are.

Actually, it turns out that the spammer above is a Tea Party conservative. And this Tea Party conservative just got Larry Ellison mad at him. How mad? Ellison may issue his second tweet on his Twitter account. And the non-Tea Party Republicans are dreading what that tweet will be. If they're lucky, Larry will just try to upstage Benioff.

P.S. Perhaps there's another explanation. Maybe the people saw the #oow hashtag and had no idea what it was, but just realized that it was popular. This is a credible explanation:

Don’t use a hashtag that has other meanings or is likely to be used for something else – this is especially likely for acronyms.

And as has already been noted, "oow" is awfully similar to "oww." Speaking of Benioff...
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