PC Doctor February 23, 2019

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Dear PC Doctor:

I use Instagram and Facebook and all that. I noticed that sometimes people use hashtags (#) and sometimes people use @. What’s the difference? Which should I use when?



Dear Grace:

Great question!

When you use a hashtag (#) before a word or phrase, your post gets linked to every post that uses the same hashtag. (Examples: #bookfacefriday or #saturdaylibrarian.) You can use the @ symbol to alert someone in particular. For example @stephenking will show Stephen King that you’ve tagged him when he next looks at his instagram account. #stephenking adds your post to all the other posts that mention Stephen King, but it doesn’t alert him that you’ve mentioned him. Also, if someone has made a comment on your Instagram post, when you reply, Instagram automatically uses the @ symbol so that they will see your reply.

When using @ to mention and connect with someone, you have to use the name they’ve given their account. It won’t work if you use something different. For example, the Athol Library Teens have an Instagram account. It’s called athollibraryteens. If you have a great book recommendation, or if you had a fabulous time at a teen library program, you’ll want to post @athollibraryteens so that the library’s teen specialist will be sure to see it.

To sum it up, hashtags are for topics, and @ is someone’s account (a person).

Until next time,

Happy Computing!
PC Doctor

Editor's Note: Questions should be directed to PC Doctor, care of the Athol Public Library, info@athollibrary.org or Athol Public Library, 568 Main St., Athol, Mass. 01331, or dropped off at the library.