Pepe the frog has been a frequent on social media as discussions on current events such as the election and racism get heated. Due to the use of his memes with hateful comments by white supremacist groups, Pepe is often associated with racism.
In September, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced that Pepe had been added to to ADL’s online “Hate on Display” database.
The release explained that a subset of memes came into existence promoting anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas, which spread virally on social media sites.
“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 in the release. “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 hopes to save Pepe’s good name, the ADL and Pepe Creator Matt Furie are joining forces to launch a new campaign, #SavePepe.
In 2005, Matt Furie created Pepe as a comic character with the philosophy of “Feels Good man” and now he hopes to create more positive messages incorporating Pepe.
“Furie will create a series of positive Pepe memes and messages, which ADL will promote on its social media channels with the hashtag, #SavePepe,” the October 14 release explained. “ADL will encourage others to retweet and share positive images of the frog an in attempt to rehabilitate him and move his image out of the realm of hate speech.”
Oren Segal, Director of ADL’s Center on Extreme Views told Diverge that this hate symbol was unique because it is primarily online as opposed to on the ground.
“In this case, we are exploring the possibility of trying to encourage people to use positive messages to sort of balance out the hateful version of this meme,” Segal explained.
“This is definitely the beginning of the story, its not the end and we are going to continue exploring where it goes,” he added.