The «OK» hand sign, which is also a popular emoji, entered the list of hate symbols after being appropriated by extremist groups. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a United States organization that monitors hate crimes, the gesture that forms a circle between the index and thumb fingers has been used as an expression of «white supremacy».
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Created in 2000 with the aim of helping people to recognize signs of extremism, the ADL list currently has more than 200 items, including the Ku Klux Klan swastika and burning cross. The OK emoji, hitherto employed as a sign of approval or that everything is fine, was added to the list after being used by extreme right-wingers in insults and offensive messages online.
‘OK’ emoji joins list of hate symbols – Photo: Reproduction / Emoji
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It all started with a prank planned by users of the 4Chan forum in 2017. The joke was meant to ridicule reporters, convincing them that the OK gesture was, in fact, a symbol of white supremacist power. The plaintiff’s argument would be that, in the hand that makes the sign, the three straight fingers form the letter «W» (white), while the closed thumb and forefinger symbolize the letter «P» (power).
Although absurd, the joke was so successful and widespread on the extreme right that many started to adopt the OK sign as a form of identification. The perpetrator of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, accused of killing 51 people in March this year, made the gesture when he was presented to the court. In social networks, in turn, it is common to see extremists posting photos in which they reproduce the symbol with their hands.
However, ADL points out that, in most cases, the gesture is used in its traditional sense – indicating approval or signaling that everything is fine. For this reason, the organization recommends taking «special care not to jump to conclusions about the intention of someone who used the gesture».
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