What Does the Twitter Hash FF Mean?by Elizabeth Mott
If you're a tweep, or Twitter user, you can post your thoughts, tell friends what you're doing and follow interesting people. Twitter users mark their posts -- called tweets -- with abbreviations that pack information into 140 characters. Some of these signs are the same shorthand you use in texts and email messages. Others are called hashtags, Twitter's way of marking tweets so they add up on your timeline to constitute trending topics: subjects that dominate the conversation on Twitter because many users tweet about them at the same time. While hashtags aren't unique to Twitter, the service has its own hashtag traditions.
Any word you precede with the pound sign in one of your tweets becomes what's called a hashtag. You can make hashtags out of multi-word phrases by replacing the spaces between words with underscores or just running capitalized words together. If large numbers of Twitter users post tweets that include the same hashtag, that tag appears in a list of subjects called trending topics. These constitute the "top 10" of what's on Twitter's collective mind.
Searching for Hashtags
If you're a Twitter subscriber with a strong interest in something or someone of timely interest, you can search Twitter for other people's tweets about that subject matter by searching for hashtags related to it. Unlike your timeline, which only shows tweets from people you follow, your search results show posts from people around the world. If you spot a tweet you find exceptionally smart or funny, you can retweet it, which allows the people who follow you to see a repeated version of the tweet and also boosts its popularity.
Retweeting and the Trending Topics List
Trending topics become popular because many Twitter subscribers tweet about them or retweet other people's tweets on the subject. Usually, these topics and hashtags simply reflect what many people have on their minds. Sometimes, however, subscribers will try to push a topic up the trending list by tweeting its hashtag repeatedly. This doesn't always work, and if it's carried to extremes, Twitter views this behavior as keyword spamming, which can result in account suspension.
The FF hashtag, which constitutes one of Twitter's weekly traditions, stands for "Follow Friday." Each Friday, Twitter users post tweets that consist of "#FF" or "#FollowFriday" preceding a list of their friends' and Twitter favorites' user names. It's an attempt to get other people to follow the tweeps you value. Some users follow this tradition scrupulously and even apologize to friends they accidentally omit from their FF tweets. Others skip FF posts because they clog up the timeline with user names and don't provide genuinely interesting content.