If you live half your life on Twitter (like me) then you’ve likely seen this hashtag floating around: #TweetThePress.

Where did it start? What does it mean? And why are hundreds of tweeters using it?

In case you need a definition the word hashtag, I found a good one on Twitter Fan Wiki:

Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They’re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.

I first noticed the #TweetThePress hashtag about two month ago amidst a whirlwind of tweets. The journalist in me needed some answers: what are the initiatives and intentions behind #TweetThePress? How is the hashtag being used, and how did it become so popular?

A bit of Twitter searching quickly led me to a main character—or rather, a cast of characters—namely, the CUNY graduate school of journalism in New York:

The CUNY graduate school of journalism has a Twitter account called TWEETthePress. As their bio explains, the account is authored by the school’s graduate class. The team of tweeters boasts a modest 1,696 followers, and have tweets dated as early as September of 2008. I tried to contact them for some answers, but didn’t hear back, so I did some more digging on Twitter.

The #TweetThePress Hashtag has been used by hundreds of users, and given its popularity, it taken on a few different connotations and can be used for a number of reasons.

First of all, we have tweeters who use the hashtag to talk about or to members of the mainstream media, like this tweet:

These tweeters demonstrate that media is no longer direct and one way, and that social platforms such as Twitter provide regular citizens a voice to speak out against the media (“dear news media” reads the tweet).

#TweetThePress is also a sign of political commentary, a cue that what’s contained in the tweet has some message (usually satirical) about the events of political life:

These tweets evidence that Twitter can be used as a political tool, and that the act of tweeting can be a political gesture.

Others use it to actually quote political figures:

And finally, we have a smaller category of people on Twitter using the hashtag but demonstarting that they have no idea why they’re using it or how hashtags work, like these people:

Are you using the #TweetThePress hashtag? Tell us about it in the comments section, or tweet your response @AmandaCosco

@Amanda Cosco is a freelance writer, content queen & social media girl genius. To learn more about her, visit her professional blog here.