The neo-Nazi (((echoes))) symbol: What it means, why it’s all over Twitter and why I added it to my name
A protest against neo-Nazi trolls is echoing across Twitter right now — and all it takes is six parentheses.
In the past two weeks, you likely noticed many people on Twitter adding three parentheses before and after their names, (((Like This))).
It looks silly, and it’s supposed to — because it used to mean something sinister.
Neo-Nazi cowards hiding behind Twitter accounts have used that symbol — called “echoes” — in the past two years as a way to identify Jews on the internet, so that their hateful flock know who to attack. For a long time, those “echoes” remained a baffling detail in endless streams of disgusting messages.
But after a story from Mic last week, the secret is finally out — and the rest of us are fighting back. Throughout June, countless Twitter users — including myself and several others at the Daily News — have added the echoes to their own Twitter names.
The sudden co-opting of the symbol on Twitter is a form of protest — a way for the rest of us to tell the web’s worst haters: We know what you’re doing. Now the joke’s on you.
The Anti-Defamation League even classified echoes as a hate symbol last week, after all the attention.
So how did we get here?
As Mic explained, the echoes come from the Daily Shoah, a Jew-hating podcast for the extreme right-wing blog the Right Stuff.
On the podcast, the utterance of Jewish names was accompanied by an echo sound effect — a way to reduce all Jews to cartoons.
The Right Stuff then added “echo” to its online lexicon, explaining: “All Jewish surnames echo throughout history. The echoes repeat the sad tale as they communicate the emotional lessons of our great white sins, imploring us to Never Forget the 6 GoRillion.”
And like that, the blog’s mindless flock took the symbol to Twitter.
The echoes became a sick inside joke for neo-Nazis to mark their latest target for online harassment. It helped, too, that most search engines ignore punctuation and wouldn’t pick up on the “((()))” in any query. That allowed it to fester for far too long.
But more people started paying attention in the past few months, as Jewish journalists went public about harassment they faced after writing anything vaguely critical about America’s hater-in-chief, Donald Trump. These pained personal pieces from reporters often included screenshots of hate tweets — and many of those featured the echoes.
By now, the echoes have gone mainstream, turning from a sign of shame to one of solidarity.
Look around at the people you follow on Twitter. You’ll see Jews and non-Jews, reporters and media professionals and students and teenagers, suddenly branding their name with what was once a sign of hatred. The next time neo-Nazi losers want an easy way to brand someone, they’re going to have to learn something new about punctuation.
I recently added the echoes to my name on Twitter — because I knew about them well before they were cool. Unfortunately.
When I saw the symbol popping up all over Twitter, I immediately remembered the one day at the Daily News when I faced the most intense anti-Semitism of my journalism career. (Anti-Semitic hate mail, by the way, is a nearly daily occurrence for me; all of it gives me a good laugh.)
It came in December, after I wrote about one of Trump’s characteristically violent rallies, in which a supporter yelled “Sieg Heil!” at a black protester. I posted the story in the morning and tweeted it out.
Starting a few minutes after my tweet, and continuing for several straight days, my Twitter feed overflowed with anonymous neo-Nazi idiots who simply could not handle the news I covered.
Most assumed I wrote the article as part of some Zionist-anti-Trump-liberal-media conspiracy. (Ya got me). A few tweeted pictures of Hitler or swastikas. One guy sent me a photo of a dollar bill trail leading into a kitchen oven.
And nearly all of them felt compelled to write my surname in the tweets — as (((Silverstein))).
I had no idea what that meant back then, and I forgot about it until I saw the echoes now appearing on the names of friends and colleagues. I went and added the parentheses too — but as ((Silverstein)), with only two on each side, since my Big Dumb Jew Name is too long for Twitter. Oops, did I just steal a joke some hate mailer was ready to send me?
None of this will cut down on neo-Nazi tweets — which Twitter does a piss-poor job of policing — but it has finally rendered one of the trolls’ favorite symbols as a silly and empty threat. Just like anything else they have to say.