New York, NY, September 27, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today identified “Pepe the Frog,” a cartoon character used by haters on social media to suggest racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted notions, as a hate symbol. It has been added it to ADL’s online “Hate on Display” database.
Also referred to as the “sad frog meme,” Pepe the Frog did not originally have anti-Semitic connotations. But as the meme proliferated in online venues such as 4chan, 8chan and Reddit, a subset of memes came into existence promoting anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas. And those have spread virally on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.
Images of the frog, variously portrayed with a Hitler-like moustache, wearing a yarmulke or a Klan hood, have proliferated in recent weeks in hateful messages aimed at Jewish and other users on Twitter.
“Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “These anti-Semites have no shame. They are abusing the image of a cartoon character, one that might at first seem appealing, to harass and spread hatred on social media.”
In June, ADL added the (((echo))) symbol to the Hate on Display database after members of the so-called “alt right” started using the triple parenthesis symbol to single out Jewish journalists and users on social media for harassment.
ADL’s Task Force on Harassment and Journalism, convened earlier this year, is currently working on a report documenting the source and extent of harassment against journalists on social media. Those preliminary findings are slated for release in mid-October.
ADL founded the Hate on Display database in 2000 as part of its effort to track hate groups and help law enforcement, educators and other members of the public to identify those symbols that serve as potential calling cards of extremists and anti-Semites.