The last couple of years have seen an enormous increase in the number of Tweets containing the #ChangetheDate hashtag, which advocates for Australia Day celebrations to be held on a day other than January 26, which commemorates the landing of the First Fleet and is considered insensitive by many Indigenous Australians.
Twitter Australia told NITV News the usage of the #ChangetheDate hashtag swelled over 2000 per cent between 2016 and 2018, while NITV’s own #AlwaysWillBe hashtag, which was only introduced last year, grew more than 10 per cent between 2017 and 2018. It was the third most popular hashtag used to discuss an alternative date for Australia Day, after #ChangetheDate and #InvasionDay.
#AlwaysWillBe trended in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney for the better part of the day (a total of 1095 minutes, over 18 hours) and peaked at second place, as NITV followers and change the date advocates from across the country shared their own photos specifying their location according to the Aboriginal map of Australia.
Other hashtags advocating for an alternative date for Australia Day have consistently shown a steady rise in recent years. The number of overall tweets discussing changing the date more than doubled, growing by 150% since 2016, while the #InvasionDay and #SurvivalDay hashtags have shown an increase of 200 per cent between 2014 and 2018.
The exponential growth of #ChangetheDate hashtag has shed light on how the national debate regarding Australia’s national day has gained momentum on social media. In 2017, there were seven times more tweets containing #Australia Day than #ChangetheDate, while in 2018, #AustraliaDay tweets dominated by only twofold.
The #ChangetheDate hashtag proliferated in all Australian capital cities, and even lit up some international locations in Indonesia, as shown on Twitter’s heat map.
This year isn’t the first to show this steep upwards trend. Between 2014 and 2017, the use of the #ChangetheDate hashtag grew more than 5000 per cent.