Twitter can be a very confusing place — especially if you’re not up on the newest trending joke, hashtag campaign, or abbreviations. Recently, I found myself wondering why everyone on Twitter has parentheses around their names. You might have noticed that many Twitter handles are now enclosed in triple parentheses, so it looks like @(((My Twitter Name))). At first I assumed, since it was mainly a lot of journalists and funny people I follow, that it was referencing some stupid thing Donald Trump said or was a Game of Thrones thing (no, I don’t watch it and I’m very, very sorry) that I was never going to understand. Basically, I felt like dweeb for not understanding.
Using the “echo” in your Twitter handle is part of an anti-racist campaign against the the alt-right movement — a very scary group of white supremacists that lurk on the web and are just really, really racist and backward. These are the kind of white nationalists that are actually pro-choice because pro-life allows “the least intelligent and responsible women” who are “disproportionately Black, Hispanic, and poor” to have kids. Yea, like that kind of batshit crazy.
When these guys (they are almost always male, go figure), troll the internet and share articles, they use the echo to signify if a publication or writer is Jewish.
So, the alt-right troll would do this: Corey (((Fleishman))) over at Mic says that the echo originated on an alt-right podcast around 2014. It’s like “closed captioning for the Jew blind,” one alt-right troll explained in a tweet. Gross, right? With the rise of Trump and his overt racism, the alt-right has been getting louder and louder around the web. They’ve been specifically targeting Jewish writers (or those with Jewish sounding names) on Twitter, leaving anti-semitic memes, comments, GIFs of Hitler, and other fucking atrocious stuff.
Fleishman interviewed a journalist who wanted to remain anonymous because he had finally rid himself of the trolls but told Mic that after writing an article that was critical of the Republican party, he gets “many Semitic things, but this was different.”
The symbol ((())) is really hard to search on Twitter apparently, so it was a good way for these lunatics to secretly talk amongst themselves about whatever the hell they talk about and signify that the writer in question is Jewish. I don’t know why they are reading and sharing those articles if they think Jewish people have nothing worthwhile to say, but stupidity knows no limits.
Jonathan Weissman over at The New York Times wrote an in-depth piece about the harassment that he and others on Twitter were experiencing. According to a Twitter “storm,” as he called it, he and a social media editor at The Times asked Twitter why the symbol is so hard to search, even rounding up some of the most heinous tweets. According to Weissman, Twitter told him there’s technically “nothing there that violates” their rules.
Instead of the echo being a secret bullying tactic thing, writers and public figures (some Jewish some in solidarity), have started putting the echo around their own name on the social network. It’s a way to self-identify and tell the bigoted trolls to go fuck themselves.
It’s a good cause, though some think that the whole thing just excites the alt-right even more and should just be totally ignored. More than putting the echo around your name, it might be more useful to hound Twitter to do something about it. It’s scary as hell.
Original by Karen Fratti @karenfratti