Hashtags are already a common way of organising posts on Twitter and Instagram, but they'll shortly be arriving in YouTube's video descriptions and titles to make it easier to discover relevant content.
Although the feature appears to only be rolling out to a small number of Android devices so far, according to Android Police, Google already has a support page addressing the new functionality, suggesting that a wider rollout is imminent, although we’ve been unable to install the app on our iOS device at this time.
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Thankfully, YouTube already appears to have learned a thing or two about the dark side of hashtags from other platforms that have supported it in the past. Hashtags that promote harassment or humiliation of certain groups aren’t allowed, and they also can’t promote violence or hatred.
YouTube also claims that misleading hashtags won’t be allowed, but we’re not entirely sure how this is going to be enforced. We expect it will become very tempting to cram as many hashtags as possible into a video’s description to attempt to get it to rank higher for as many terms as possible.
YouTube has said that it will pull down any videos that violate these policies.
From tags to hashtags
The video platform already uses a similar method of organising videos called ‘tags’, which the video uploader adds alongside the more visible video title and description.
The biggest difference with hashtags will be that they’re much more visible to YouTube viewers. Currently, if you want to view a video’s tags then you have to view the page’s source code in your browser, and there doesn’t appear to be any way to do it on mobile.
Meanwhile, anyone who looks at a video’s description will be able to see the hashtags that they’ve used. It will make the whole process more transparent, but it’s unclear exactly what effect this will have on content creators.
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