Users on Twitter have used the so-called echo symbol to target Jewish people for online abuse. A disturbing new way for neo-Nazis and anti-semites to target Jewish people on social media has been branded a “hate symbol” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The method involves putting three sets of brackets around the surname of well-known Jewish users or those perceived to be Jewish, to single them out to others.
Basically, it’s putting a virtual target on someone’s profile.
“The echo symbol is the online equivalent of tagging a building with anti-Semitic graffiti or taunting someone verbally,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL.
“We at ADL take this manifestation of online hate seriously, and that’s why we’re adding this symbol to our database and working with our partners in the tech industry to investigate this phenomenon more deeply.”
Because punctuation isn’t easily searchable on Google or other online sites, it has become a secretive way for white supremacists to communicate.
High-profile targets of the online abuse that follows the echo symbol include former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Times journalist Jonathan Weisman.
“I found myself staring down a social-media timeline filled with the raw hate and anti-Semitic tropes that for centuries fueled expulsion, persecution, pogroms and finally genocide,” Weisman wrote in a piece for the Times .
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Last week, Google removed a seemingly-innocent Chrome extension called “Coincidence Detector”. In fact, the plug-in was being used to search for names surrounded by the echo brackets and compile them into a list to make it easier for bigots to target them.
However, in recent days, many Jewish users have taken it upon themselves to fight back against the echo symbol.
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Some of them have even co-opted the parenthesis around their own names in a show of solidarity with those targeted by abuse.
Thanks to everyone participating in this act of (((cultural appropriation))). Since the culture in question is Nazi, it’s permissible.
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) 3 June 2016
Want to raise awareness about anti-Semitism, show solidarity with harassed Jews & mess with the Twitter Nazis? Put ((( ))) around your name.
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) June 3, 2016
If you want to add an echo to your name, it’s very straightforward. Go to your Twitter profile page and click “Edit Profile”, from there you can type the brackets around your name and save the changes.
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