It has become a rallying point for white supremacism around the world

Stefano Garau /


It’s been a while now that the « OK » emoji has been very present on social networks. It has become a real technique of « popular trolling » of right-wing individuals, as reported by the ADL. They regularly publish photographs showing them making this sign.


For some, the association of emoji with hatred has its origins in a joke posted on 4Chan, an anonymous English forum. It consisted of taking an innocent gesture and pretending that there was a hidden meaning behind it. The main purpose was to mislead the media and leftists. This joke then became very popular on the web and spread further among extreme right-wing groups. As a result, its meaning was changed. Many Internet users have denounced the hateful and extremist nature of this symbol. It is therefore a joke that would have gone wrong.

donald trump making ”OK” sign / Credit: Sebastian Gorka

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Since then, several extreme right-wing politicians have been spotted making this sign. Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen are among them. The latter, however, claimed to be unaware of the true meaning of this gesture. Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the ADL, explains that “even if the extremists continue to use symbols dating from years or decades ago, they regularly create new symbols, memes, and slogans to express their odious feelings”.

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Much more critical: the man accused of killing 51 people in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, also made this sign while appearing in court. Moreover, the historian specializing in extreme right-wing movements, Paul Stocker, explains that this gesture has become a means of communication between extreme right-wing members.

Similarly, he says it is a « coded message for people who know and understand what the extreme right is doing ». From a simple joke, it has become a true symbol of coded rallying and signs that are often harmless to some. Thus, the distorted and distressing use of this gesture has led to a problematic situation that the ADL will try to alleviate as best as possible.

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