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CashGordon – The arguments for and against hashtags

Today, the Conservative Party launched Cashgordon, the latest site in their online election campaign. The website, which automatically features Twitter statuses containing the hashtag ‘cashgordon’, immediately gained the attention of UK social media users.

Inevitably, those with a dislike for the Conservative Party began to abuse the application; posting offensive messages and updates with the hashtag in order to appear on the homepage.

Here, two theEword staffers examine the positive and negative repercussions of automatically posting Twitter updates.

For

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Oscar Wilde

There’s no better way to generate traffic and conversation than under the pretence of mistake. By allowing open hashtags on their homepage, The Conservative Party have motivated thousands to post a comment about the party. At its peak, nearly 1 per cent of all the updates on Twitter including the phrase #cashgordon. This was a successful viral campaign.

Online engagement has been a large part of the Conservative election strategy . By showing unmoderated comments, the political group has shown that it is willing to welcome all to contribute to the debate. No matter how puerile their comments.

And in the end, isn’t that what democracy is all about?

Against

“Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

This was a peculiar tactic for The Conservative Party. While my honourable friend has an astute point about the nature of viral, the sheer negativity on display on the site can’t help but paint the Conservatives in a negative light.It’s a testament to the unflattering comments that the site has since been taken down.

The same strategy was employed by Skittles in 2008 and, as a result of the following PR nightmare, the use of unmoderated Twitter feeds has been strongly discouraged. It was perhaps naive to think the same process would glean different results.

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