In the midst of all the trending tags on issues that could potentially change the lives of many—such as #USElection2020 and #YesToSOGIEBill—arose #tite, seemingly out of nowhere.
On Nov. 5, the hashflag circulated on Twitter with many wondering what prompted it. Things went way more downhill from there when the even hornier tag #TiteNaSumabog started topping (sorry for the bad intentional pun) the trend list. While it was a little too early for some to be seeing it on their feed (it started trending around midnight), many were happy to let the thirst gates open no matter the time of day.
There were netizens who joined the party by going on a more wholesome route, tweeting about it being an acronym that stands for trabaho, ipon, travel and enjoy. Others tweeted it with the #NoToSOGIEBill tag to bury posts from folks who didn’t want the bill aimed at protecting LGBTQIA+ Filipinos from discrimination approved in the Senate.
While the identity of the person who started the tag is still a mystery, we can answer the second biggest question on everybody’s minds: Is the symbol really a penis?
The symbol is actually a unicode of an Egyptian hieroglyph which English Egyptologist Alan Gardiner says really does mean penis. It’s not the first time that the people of the internet have used it to get a WTF-type of response. There have been posts about it, on Reddit for example, as early as 2018.
Several fandoms have also been using the symbol in tags to clown on both K-pop and Western artists alike, with notable examples being Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.
It’s funny that this hieroglyph took on in 2020 considering that many have postulated that the rise of emojis is humanity going back to hieroglyphs. In a way, the eggplant emoji could be considered as the great-great-great granddaughter of the penis heiroglyph since they’re both ideagrams (which Oxford defines as a written character symbolizing the idea of a thing without indicating the sounds).
The rise of the hashflags
In 2010, Twitter created its first Twitter emoji a.k.a. a hashflag. You can pay the platform around $1 million to have a custom hashtag with an image at the end. Recently, a number of high-profile K-pop groups have been investing in it such as Blackpink and NCT. It’s not just for musical acts, though: When the game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was first released and started trending, all of the AC-related tags came with a little emoji resembling Tom Nook, a character from the game. Why do companies spend so much on this? It’s effective for brand recall and a flex, says Twitter user and stan Mia Castor.
✍️ Owning the keywords for the duration of the campaign ✍️ Keyword association with logo/icon, which in turn increases brand recall ✍️ Can imply higher status or in twitter term "flex"
While it does have its pros, some critics say that it’s not really worth it. Justin Garrity of Business 2 Community writes, “Twitter custom emojis aren’t permanent. They only exist during the campaign period for the hashtag. After the campaign is over, all Tweets that featured the hashtag will no longer display a custom emoji within the Twitter interface. This allows hashtags to be recycled, reused, and possibly be claimed by a different brand.”
As of now, the symbol no longer shows up as part of the tag on Twitter. Does that mean that it was a hashflag that someone paid for? Or was it taken down because it was inappropriate or was seen as a potential competitor to hashflags? We still have so many questions and we didn’t even get the chance to properly say goodbye. You will be remembered, penis hashflag.