Twitter's New Hashtag Project Sounds Risky

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Twitter's Communications team is trying to build buzz around the funny, weird and interesting events that could only happen on Twitter. It's called #OnlyOnTwitter.

Quoting the brief but official blog post on the idea, "We’ve started collecting these moments here over the last few months, and now we’re sharing them with you. Each week you’ll see instances from sports, television, news, music…" As Twitter's trying to build out its advertising options, this makes perfect sense. Picking some really unique #OnlyOnTwitter happenings is a great thing to show a potential advertiser. A good ad salesperson would follow that up with, "You can't find this anywhere else." It's true! Twitter does produce some truly unique moments. However, for very specific reasons, we expect this fact to yield unexpected consequences. Namely, these three awkward types of tweets that will undoubtedly latch on to the hashtag:

Porn. Whether Twitter likes to admit it or not, it has a porn problem. If you're a regular user, you know what we're talking about. It's what happens when you get an @mention from a handle you don't recognize -- usually it either has that generic egg image or a nice-looking man or woman in a provocative pose -- and when you click the link, explicit things happen. #OnlyOnTwitter can you click a hidden link at work and have your screen overtaken by lots of naked bodies. It's not exactly a positive thing for Twitter, especially when trying to attract family-friendly advertisers.

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Lies. What happens when one jokester—or one misinformed person—decides to tweet that a famous person is dead and it trends for hours on Twitter. Before you know it, it's international news, except the news is not that the famous person is dead, but that Twitter is spreading the story. That's a pretty embarrassing instance of #OnlyOnTwitter. Most recently, it was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who didn't actually die, though Fidel Castro is probably the most popular living person declared dead on Twitter. This isn't even an advertiser problem. It's a diplomatic problem:

Anger. Twitter has some unresolved technical problems. We're quite sure that this new hashtag is going to turn into a support group for those who want to yell about them:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.