It’s once again been proven that people on Twitter will believe just about anything, especially if it goes in favor of a certain political belief. Case and point: the Politically Incorrect channel of the social forum 4chan purposely put the idea out there that the “OK” hand signal, which is made by touching one’s thumb and pointer finger together while leaving the remaining three fingers vertical, is actually a “white power” hand sign that white supremacists flash to one another in secret.
Several left-wing journalists fell for the “white power hand signal” bait hook, line, and sinker. Emma Roller of Fusion, who upon finding out about the alleged hand sign accused two conservative journalists of flashing it inside the White House, even seems to have found a source that verifies the false claim.
Right-wing Twitter users responded to the white power hand sign allegation by Roller and others immediately, and it didn’t take long for people to find photos of African Americans, including Barack Obama, Oprah, and Beyonce, making the exact same hand gesture.
The linked source that writer Emma Roller tweeted out after her initial tweet leaves much to be desired; that is, if you were hoping to find undeniable proof that the OK hand signal doubles as a white power hand sign. Even though it comes from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that is supposed to have expertise in all things hate, all the link leads to is a page with a short paragraph accompanied by a low-quality, fuzzy photograph.
What also makes this link less than impressive is that according to the ADL, this sign of white power takes two hands to make, not one as shown in the photo Roller posted in the same tweet as the link. Hence either she didn’t take the time to view the content of the reference before posting it, or she knew the photo and information in the link were contradictory, but posted anyway knowing she was essentially lying to her followers.
As this white power hand sign rumor clearly illustrates, there are way too many Twitter users out there who will believe just about anything they see in their feed, even more so if it comes from a “verified” user such as Emma Roller.
Furthermore, people who, for one reason or another, believe President Trump and his supporters to be white supremacists are almost guaranteed to believe that the “OK” hand symbol also has the more sinister “white power” meaning. Why do I say this? Because it falls in line with what they believe to be true and therefore they are less likely to question it.
A different liberal reporter, Max Weiss, upon finding out she’d been duped by 4chan, proceeded to deny reality rather than admit she was just plain wrong.
Weiss, who according to her Twitter profile writes for Baltimore Magazine, believes that since those she dubs as “white nationalists” have been seen making the OK hand signal in and around the White House, it’s automatically a symbol of white power. By this logic, giving a thumbs up, flipping the bird or any other hand signal done on the grounds of the White House is a “white power” hand sign. Who would’ve known?
This is just the latest example of falsities gone awry, an occurrence that happens all too often in the world of social media. I understand why the people of 4chan like to play these kinds of tricks, but given how trusting web users are and how quickly information (and misinformation) is spread, maybe it isn’t such a good idea to deceive a large group of people, even if it’s to prove a valid point to naysayers.
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