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Politicians and political watchers alike are trying to capitalize on Twitter's once straightfoward hashtag symbol. In a fun essay at TheAtlantic.com, Nancy Scola notes that the hashtag (the # symbol) was once simply "a way of tying together ideas and conversations on the network." She traces the symbol's history to investigate how it has come to play a snarkier role in the 2012 presidential race, with politicos capitalizing on the occasionally viral hashtag to publicize their ideas under one slogan. Scola writes:

For political types, the opportunity, of course, is to give the conventional wisdom a little nudge in the rear. And to do it for free. The left picked up on #PerryHistory to emphasize that the governor of Texas didn't know all that much about history -- after he placed the American Revolution in the 16th century. Sample tweet, from SparkyGirl13: "The US could only finance the Louisiana Purchase thanks to Brett Maverick winning a hand of poker. #PerryHistory" Often, hashtags open up a fascinating contest. The hashtag #rubiofamilyhistory picked up on the mini-controversy over the Florida Senator's roots. (Point: "Actually, my parents put me on a rocketship two years before the destruction of Krypton. #rubiofamilyhistory" Counterpoint: "I became a Senator, and then some Washington Post reporter wrote a BS article instantly refuted by the Miami Herald. #rubiofamilyhistory") The National Republican Congressional Committee has pushed #ScaryDemMovieTitles to prod along ideas about what Democrats are up to.

Check out the rest of the story at TheAtlantic.com. 

 

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