Sometimes, hashtags justify their trendiness by allowing popular causes and groups to rally on Twitter, and elsewhere on social media. At other times — like these 50 worst (best) hashtag fails below — they are an avenue to an entirely new brand of comedy.
If you’re looking for quick laughs, look up any of the following hashtags on Twitter. There’s a good chance that many of them can still be found, much to the embarrassing detriment of those responsible for these little train wrecks.
Celebrity Hashtag Fails
Look — being famous, wealthy, or otherwise popular doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a master of social media. These celebrities and their PR teams are paying for these tragic mistakes.
- #Susanalbumparty: Read it again. Okay, now read it slowly. Next, read it slowly on the phone to your parents. Susan Boyle is incredibly talented and deserves every ounce of her stardom, but this hashtag fail for her album release was outrageously inappropriate.
- #OzsInbox: Oops? Controversial television personality Dr. Oz opened the lit on what should have remained closed. “Hit me with your questions” turned into, “foist upon me the most ridiculous things you can drum up.” The coffee enema tweet was probably the best.
- #tatted: Hey, we love tattoos. Show ’em all off, folks. Just don’t count on Total Beauty to tweet about them, after they mixed up Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg.
- Kardashians, Ants, and…: Another reason that everyone, no matter who you are, should occasionally stop to think about that next tweet. Kourtney Kardashian famously asked, “Do ants have dicks?” in March 2010. C’mon!
- #FavoriteThings: Yes, Oprah. You love Microsoft’s Surface products. Which is why you tweeted this little nugget of praise from an iOS device. D’oh!
- #GoldenGlobes: You’ll find plenty of nice things said if you search this hashtag. You’ll also find MTV Australia asking for “English subtitles” when Eva Longoria and America Ferrera were on-stage. Ouch, MTV. Time to diversify!
- #AskStevieG: Well, Adidas, you’ve underestimated the Twittersphere. Don’t ask the wide world to direct their “best questions” to a legendary soccer player, by way of Twitter. Online anonymity reared its ugly head again when the lewdest and crudest appeared with this hashtag.
- #AskThicke: Twitter users were invited to direct some questions to Robin Thicke. The perhaps unexpected types of responses were, “Why are you such a misogynist?”
Companies Out of Touch
As much as they’d like us to think otherwise, corporations are not people. Because of this, it’s easy for them to be so severely out of touch that social media gaffes are merely inevitable.
- #YourTaxis: The Victorian Taxi Association delivered this gem. By-the-books social media rules that visible customer feedback can boost optics and shed some humanity on an otherwise huge company. Until those customers start trending your hashtag into the ground be delivering grisly and ghastly stories from the backs of taxi cabs.
- #Cairo: Maybe, people will someday realize that Twitter is a global phenomenon. Not before Kenneth Cole sends out a tasteless tweet about the conflict in Egypt, though.
- #PowergenItalia: If you missed the obvious misreading, go ahead and say it out loud. Italian battery company Powergen might not have known what they were getting into, with this hashtag. Who knows, though? Maybe it helped to erect their reputation.
- #ILoveWalgreens: This one didn’t necessarily have to be a trending nightmare, but never underestimate the people of Twitter. What might have been a series of great customer feedback snippets turned into a roasting match.
- #USAirways: How many major airlines are we going to see on this list? This time, one of the gigantic corporations accidentally mixed air-fare marketing with…fellatio. Don’t believe us? Take to Google, and you’ll see. Jokes about fuselage size and air traffic control ran rampant.
- #QantasLuxury: Days after your airline undergoes a union labor dispute, does it seem like a good idea to ask for promotion via Twitter? No? This company’s social media team didn’t think so.
- #WTFF: Clearly, this could only be interpreted as “What the French Fry.” That’s what Burger King thought, anyway. Twitter thought otherwise.
- #Bing: There were actually plenty of vulgar hashtags to follow, but when Bing offered to donate $1 for each search engine query about an earthquake disaster in Japan? The fallout was scathing, and the company was forced to apologize. The sizeable donation that followed that apology helped, too.
- #UrbanOutfitters: There’s plenty to like about this brand, but plenty to criticize about the half-assed mishandling of accusations that it had appropriated clothing designs. Say goodbye to thousands of followers, folks!
- #WaitroseReasons: By now, you’d think that companies would stop expecting honest feedback on Twitter. Supermarket chain Waitrose overestimated what they’d be getting, from Twitter users.
- #AskJPM: Once again, a big company is out of touch. When the largest bank in the US opens itself up to customer questions…what did they think was going to happen? Questions about illegitimate practices, ethical violations, and moral outrage rode this hashtag off into the sunset.
- #McDStories: What’s the worst fast-food story you can tell? Feel like putting it on Twitter? McDonald’s practically asked for this one, when they opened themselves up to the floodgate of in-store horror stories.
- #RIMJobs: Go ahead. I’ll wait for you to stop laughing. It’s not that funny, anyway. Blackberry wanted to hire more people to work in their RIM division. A perfectly normal hashtag. Right?
- #WhyIStayed: Don’t get us wrong — domestic abuse is a serious, dire issue. Which is why it was quite worrying when frozen pizza company DiGiorno tried to co-opt it to market their pizzas on Twitter. Smart, social media team. Tons of foresight, right there.
- #Sandy: Thank you, GAP, for helping to reach out to people who’d been drastically affected by a hurricane. Or, was it that you were trying to up your sales? This hashtag left it unclear.
What Were These People Thinking?
- #CoalisAmazing: Environmental science debates are at a fever pitch, and the relevancy of the fossil fuel industry is circling the drain. What is a better time, then, to try and drum up support for the coal industry via Twitter? Whoops!
- #myNYPD: Maybe, when the excessive use of police force is a trending social topic, it might be a bad idea to open social media for public feedback. Needless to say, this 2014 effort by the NYPD to bolster public perception backfired, somewhat horrifically.
- #NotGuilty: This one’s hard to classify. It’s also mortifyingly vague, which is probably why a company trying to promote sugar-free snacks accidentally used a hashtag commonly associated with very serious judicial verdicts. Oops!
- #doitonthebus: Whatever you say, Metro Transit. This one is going to come back to bite you.
- #therapist: Word choice is important, and sexual assault is an incredibly serious crime. Maybe, therefore, “therapy” should have been used in this hashtag, rather than what was ultimately chosen.
- #nbcpolitics: This one was actually a brand error, by way of a clumsy KitchenAid social media worker. A political rant slipped out on the company’s Twitter profile, rather than the individual’s personal feed. Party politics aside, Twitter itself had a party with this mess-up.
- #ILSen & Tammy Duckworth: Politics is a dirty business. But this went far beyond when @NRSC tweeted that Tammy Duckworth — who lost her legs while serving in Iraq — doesn’t “stand up” for vets. This one was just painful.
- Donald Trump & Serial Killers: It wasn’t a hashtag, really, but it was friggin’ hilarious. Twitter user @feckhead told Donald J. Trump that he was a big inspiration to their “deceased parents,” and asked him to retweet their picture. The problem? One, the picture was of two serial killers, and two, it was retweeted without a second thought. HAH!
- #nofilter: Here’s’ a hint for the wider internet — everything that you say carries possible repercussions. The right to free speech is not the right to not be held accountable for one’s words. If you need to slap a #nofilter hashtag on your tweet, you might want to reconsider the possible outcomes.
- #humblebrag: #oxymoron? #isntitironic? #no?
- #Aurora: Maybe, after a shooting that shocked the entire world, we shouldn’t associate a fashion brand with the name of the town that endured this tragedy. Maybe. Think about it, at least?
Wake Up, Pop Culture
Sports teams? Movie PR? Politics? You can trust them all to be about as clumsy as possible when it comes to social media. That means more hashtag fails, and they don’t seem to stop coming…
- The New England Patriots?: This might not qualify as a “hashtag fail,” but when the New England Patriots’ official Twitter account thanked @IHATEN****** for being its millionth follower, the backlash was deservedly severe. Maybe automated responses aren’t the way to manage a team’s social media presence, eh?
- #CLitfest: Huh. Chester Literary Festival. C — Lit — Fest. Nope, it still doesn’t exactly add up for us, though we’re not sure if we should thank or ridicule the social media genius (or buffoon) that decided on this.
- #Nowthatchersdead: Once again, Twitter is global. That said, maybe we should break this hashtag down. “Now Thatcher’s Dead.” “Now That Cher’s Dead.” The former is the accurate reception, as it trended after the passing of Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister in the UK. Not Cher. Just to be clear.
- #Hobbitch: CH is the ISO code for Switzerland. The Hobbit was a recently-released major motion picture. Contrary to what this tweet might lead you to believe, not all hobbits are bad people. (And no, #NotAllHobbits is not the appropriate way to respond to this.)
- @TayAndYou: This isn’t exactly a hashtag fail. It’s a fail on a far more spectacular level. Microsoft created an AI tweet bot, and perhaps it just speaks to the culture on Twitter…the poor tweet bot became a monstrously racist, hate-slinging entity in a matter of hours. Machine learning has a long way to go, it seems.
- #SpringBreakingBadly: Thanks, State Department. Thank you for the travel advice. Thank you for rating people on a “scale of 10” both domestically and overseas. Taxpayer dollars well-spent. We’re all clapping.
- #MadeMeSmile: Vodafone was, at one point, undergoing allegations of tax-dodging. What a better time to ask people to “send their best tweets” using a designated hashtag!
- #sandwichgate: When the British publication Daily Mail published the famously ridiculous headline, “Is There No One Left in Britain Who Can Make a Sandwich,” it prompted some predictable Twitter hilarity.
- #IHaveaDream: This one is particularly cringe-worthy, but not for the reasons you might expect. On Martin Luther King day, reputable lewd dispenser PornHub asked everyone to watch videos in the “Ebony” category. They later tweeted a correction using this hashtag, asking thirsty viewer to use the “Interracial” category. Hooboy.
Last But Not Least…
Surprisingly, some of the worst hashtag fails haven’t been on Twitter. Leave it to something trendy to try and make its way to every other form of media in existence.
- The Trending Cash-In: Plopping #Apple or #Microsoft or #Hashbrowns or #FordF150 in front of your tweets is not a clever strategy. It’s tacky, and everyone knows it’s tacky. Don’t do it.
- Hashtag Limits: Look, you love hashtags. We get it. But when a single tweet has eight of them? Ten? Twelve? Fourteen? It’s time to scale back and rethink your personal marketing strategy.
- Tattoos: Last time I checked, your body wasn’t a social media feed. Tattoos are meaningful, significant, unique. The hashtag inked onto your butt probably is not.
- Clothing: Ditty above. A few years ago, wearing some hashtags might have been trendy. Now? There’s probably a way to deliver your message that’s more effective, catchy, and entertaining.
- Jewelry: Please, no. Please? I’ll keep asking. Please.
- Pastries?!: Admittedly, this one can still be kind of fun. It can also go horribly awry because there aren’t exactly a ton of hashtags that you’d want to put on a cake. Anything “hashtaggable” that’d be clever in frosting, probably has a better method of delivery.
- Anything not Twitter or Instagram: Really, the hashtag was born for Twitter. Sure, it’s okay on Instagram. But maybe it’s time to start moving on towards different social media trends, right?
That’s 50 of the best social media gems around, from the past several years. These hashtags fails might represent the pinnacle of Twitter clumsiness today, but what will tomorrow hold? We can only assume that somebody, or some company, is going to top it.