The (((Echoes))) Parentheses Aren't Just A Trend

by Emma Cueto

If you've been on social media in the past few days, you might have noticed sets of three parentheses popping up, especially around people's names. But they're not just formatting trend; they're something much more serious. The "echoes" parentheses are a code used in neo-Nazi circles — and they've also just been declared hate speech. But don't worry; if you see your friends using them, chances are they aren't actual neo-Nazis. There's been a movement to reclaim the symbol, as well, and it's a powerful one indeed.

As Mic noted recently in their investigationof the symbol, the (((echoes))) parentheses have actually been in use among neo-Nazis for a long time. They're meant to symbolize how the supposedly nefarious influence of Jews "echoes" through society; neo-Nazis reportedly use them to identify people who are Jewish by adding the symbol around those peoples' names. The symbol has been around since at least 2014.

So why are these parentheses suddenly everywhere? The (((echoes))) recently came to greater mainstream attention after Mic reported that someone had created an extension for the browser Chrome called Coincidence Detector that added the symbol to specified names. Google pulled the extension immediately from the Chrome Web Store once its existence was brought to their attention. According to the BBC, Google declined to comment in detail, but noted that the extension broke the store's hate speech rules, resulting in its removal.

And here's where the story starts becoming a powerful statement: This whole situation brought the (((echoes))) to the attention of people who aren't neo-Nazis, most of whom found the idea appalling (because, you know, it is). And as a way of pushing back, many people who are Jewish began voluntarily placing the symbol around their social media usernames as a way of combatting the idea that being Jewish is something that needs to be "revealed," or that it's a secret that needs to be uncovered. Because, you know, people who are Jewish aren't actually secret conspirators running the world, but rather normal people living their lives who are rightfully proud of their identity.

And plenty of people who aren't Jewish have decided to join in as well, because neo-Nazis' super sophisticated detection system doesn't work nearly so well if literally everyone is adding parentheses to their user names.

In other words, everyone is collaborating to foil neo-Nazis and make them look ridiculous. Additionally, the move also draws some much-needed attention to the kind of anti-Semitic hate that many people who are Jewish receive online — especially in the midst of the current election cycle, which seems to be giving a boost to all forms of bigotry.

So good job, everyone who's reclaiming the echoes symbol, and keep up the good work. Because when you're annoying actual Nazis, you know you're doing something right.

Image: Fotolia