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“Throwback Thursday” is an Internet theme day fobserved on every Thursday during which people share an old photograph of themselves via social networking sites and image-sharing communities, most notably through photo-sharing mobile app Instagram.
has been associated with things that are deemed classic or vintage since as early as 2003, when it was first defined on Urban Dictionary. The earliest known mention of “Throwback Thursday” can be found in the title of a series of revamped retro cartoon characters that were illustrated by animator Saxton Moore and uploaded onto his blog in January 2006 (shown below).
In July 2006, the sneaker fan blog Nice Kicks launched their own Throwback Thursday series, highlighting a selection of once-popular vintage sneakers. The first post was dedicated to the Nike Air Trainer SCII (originally released in 1991) and the series continued through June 2012. Also in July 2006, a Throwback Thursday-themed football game was held at Georgia Tech in which players wore 1970s-style uniforms. In 2011, the phrase began to gain more popularity in the blogosphere as it became synonymous with events and objects that are no longer culturally relevant.
By November 2011, ten months after Instagram had introduced hashtags, posting old photos of oneself on Thursdays on the photo sharing site had became an established trend via the hashtags #throwbackthursday and #tbt. As of May 2013, these tags boast 24.2 million and 42.2 million photos respectively. Many people also shared these Instagram photos to other social networks, resulting in more than 90,000 uses of #throwbackthursday on Twitter in the first week of January 2012. Later that month, Throwback Thursday was first defined on Urban Dictionary.
A number of celebrities began to partake in the practice, including Kim Kardashian who began sharing Throwback Thursday photos on her social media sites in February 2012. The same month, a Yahoo! Answers user asked about the meaning behind the phrase Throwback Thursday, and in June, a similar question was posed on Ask.com. By July 2012, #tbt hosted more than 9.1 million photos and was the 15th most popular tag on Instagram. #tbt has also been included on lists of the most important Instagram hashtags to know compiled by communications consultant Arik Hanson and the Daily Dot. In May 2013, the hashtag was discussed in an in-depth article by Digital Trends.
Outside of Instagram, dozens of groups dedicated to sharing personal vintage photos have been created on Facebook, ranging from 20 to 200 members as of May 2013. Both #throwbackthursday and #tbt are popular tags on Tumblr and Twitter.
The Baltimore Sun – Throwback Thursday: John Mackey’s Hall-of-Fame hands
Instagram – allhiphopcom: One of the best groups ever! EPMD! #throwbackthursday Posted November 10th, 2011
The Daily Dot – The definitive glossary of weird Instagram hashtags