A new lease of life for political hashtags, despite all the acronyms

Over in the i newspaper they’ve been taking a look at the smorgasbord of Brexit-related social media hashtags such as #FBPE, #ABTV and #WATON:

To the uninitiated, political discussion on the internet can sometimes appear as if it is taking place in code…

One obvious problem with the hashtag movement is how meaningless a string of hashtags might be to someone outside the Twitter bubble. Philosopher AC Grayling’s display name at time of writing was “A C Grayling #FBPE #ABTV #WATON #OFOC” – which is all but meaningless if you’re not devoting your life to following Brexit’s social media trench warfare.

As I explain in the piece there are some benefits of these hashtags:

It’s still worthwhile to use them, however. When Lord Ashcroft ran an online poll on Brexit-if-it-happened-now voting intentions, Remain won in a landslide – and he acknowledge that sharing with the #FBPE hashtag was a good way to rally the troops. “For all the problems with people sometimes misusing them, they do help genuine new communities of real people form too,” Pack says.

In fact, for all the obscurity of these acronyms, they’ve also given political hashtags a bit of a new lease of life for UK politics. That is because, unlike favourites of yesteryear such as #LabourDoorstep and #LibDemFightback, these Brexit-themed ones actually reach out to new people, helping new communities form. Which is sort of the point of social media.


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