The ‘OK’ Hand Gesture Is Now Considered a Hate Symbol


We really do live in strange times, don’t we?

In this age of social media, you never know what’s gonna happen. Things are weird. Perhaps an everyday symbol will be co-opted by nefarious groups and turned into an emblem of hate? Does that seem far-fetched?

Well it shouldn’t because that’s exactly what happened with the ‘OK’ hand sign that we’ve all used countless times.

This is actually a problem for me – I use it a lot…

It seems like a harmless gesture, right? Well it was, but it’s not anymore. The Anti-Defamation League recently added the ‘OK’ hand gesture to its Hate Symbols Database. The hand sign has become associated with far-right and white supremacist groups on the Internet, causing its new classification.

Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League said, “Context is always key. More people than not will use the OK symbol as just ‘OK.’ But in those cases where there’s more underlining meaning, I think it’s important for people to understand that it could be used, and is being used, for hate as well.”

The ‘OK’ gesture has been pushed as a uniting symbol by far-right commentators and personalities in public and on message boards online. It originally started as a prank by users on the 4chan message board to flood social media outlets linking the hand sign to the white power movement, but it has since caught on and become a legitimate hate symbol.

Oren Segal said, “Over the past couple years, we’ve seen that the hoax was essentially successful in being applied by actual white supremacists. In many ways, they took what was a trolling effort and added it to their list of symbols.”

As ridiculous as it might sound, it’s important to keep up to date on these kinds of developments when they are brought to light. With hate groups and hate crimes on the rise, we should all know the symbols of the far-right so we can be informed and aware at all times.

If you’re curious about what else is out there, take a look at ADL’s Hate Symbols Database to keep up to date.