In an attempt to “encourage the presence of the French language on social media networks” against the influx of English language domination of the web, as well as to just be plain difficult, the French government is suggesting that people quit using the term “hashtag.”
Instead, they suggest that people use the French term “mot-dièse,” which literally translates to “sharp word” – as in the musical symbol for a sharp. The government isn’t banning its citizens from using the word “hashtag,” but they will be officially replacing it with “mot-dièse” on all official documents and accounts.
The Legifrance government page has a definition page for mot-dièse:
Suite signifiante de caractères sans espace commençant par le signe # (dièse), qui signale un sujet d’intérêt et est insérée dans un message par son rédacteur afin d’en faciliter le repérage.
With the aid of Google translate, that means “Suite signifying characters without spaces starting with # (hash), which indicates a topic of interest and is inserted into a message to his editor in easy identification.” So a hashtag, but not really.
Some French Twitter users have been quick to point out the the musical sharp symbol is not perfectly swappable with the hashtag, as the sharp symbol has a slightly different lean to it.
This news comes in the same week that a French court ruled that Twitter must give up the identities of some anti-Semitic users following a scandal involving an offensive hashtag.[The Local via Huffington Post]