Last week there was a twitter thread where an artist pointed out that telling an artist to “get their” own website to avoid platform’s mishandling of content bans (i.e. Nazi’s get promoted, and queers get canceled) is not helpful because the platforms do all they can to keep you from linking to your own site, so expecting people to get to your site or getting indexed by a search engine following a link from social media won’t happen.
Here’s the thing, though: people like links. So closed systems have to present a pressure release valve. Hashtags are a great way out. They use the semiotics of links (early versions of hashtags on social platforms were really barely more than automated links to a search for a particular term) but are also constrained by the platforms they live on. A hashtag is easier to gather into a database, to harvest, to monetize. It’s much easier, sure, but it also doesn’t have all the messiness of a real link. Instagram doesn’t have to worry that clicking on its hashtags will accidentally lead people to Twitter, or vice versa.