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The Rise of the Hitler Emoji: What’s in a Symbol?

The rise of digital media has ushered in a new era of communication. The evolution of smartphones and social networks has created smaller, more convenient ways to communicate with friends and family members. In today’s digital world, it’s easier than ever to send a message instantly and reach a broad audience. Additionally, emojis have become an essential part of online conversations. Nowhere is this more evident than the proliferation of the Hitler emoji. Emojis are small icons that serve as pictorial representations for words or concepts not easily broken down in text form. They are commonly used as symbols to quickly portray common emotions or to make less formal references to people, places or things (e.g., “the dog from Chihuahua”). However, their use can be extremely problematic when used in reference to historical figures such as Adolf Hitler.

What is an Emoji?

An emoji, also referred to as a “gif,” is a pictorial representation of a word, phrase, or concept. They are commonly used as symbols to quickly portray common emotions or to make less formal references to people, places or things (e.g., “the dog from Chihuahua”). Emojis are becoming an increasingly popular form of communication, with billions of messages sent worldwide each month. Emoji characters were designed for the Japanese market, but in recent years have become a global phenomenon. There are thousands of emoji options available; however, 645 are the most commonly used. Emoticons are typically associated with text-based messaging, while gifs are more often used in visual texts such as images and videos.

The Rise of the Hitler Emoji

The Hitler Emoji first emerged in 2015, when the creator of an app that displays the character in a yellow Star of David — possibly to represent the Nazi swastika — came under fire for the racial connotations of the symbol. Despite the controversy, the Hitler Emoji enjoyed a sudden surge in popularity among social media users. The rise of the Hitler Emoji coincided with the current political climate. With the escalation of ISIS and the refugee crisis, there has been an increase in online debate on issues such as immigration and national security. Additionally, the increased use of social media has led to widespread inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech. With such a strong association between the Hitler Emoji and the current political climate, it’s not surprising the symbol has become so widely used.

What is Wrong with Using the Hitler Emoji?

The most obvious issue with the use of the Hitler Emoji is its reference to a widely controversial figure such as Adolf Hitler. Although the swastika was once used by the Nazis as a symbol of national pride, the symbol has been widely demonized as a hateful symbol of genocide and racism. Additionally, the symbol itself is associated with the genocide of millions of people and countless cultures. While it’s important to remember and even criticize the atrocities committed by historical figures, the use of the Hitler Emoji has serious implications that go beyond the intent of the user. Namely, the use of the Hitler Emoji could be taken as a normalized reference to Hitler’s and the Nazis’ ideology. Such normalized use of a symbol that has become so widely vilified is a serious issue that should not be ignored.

Controversy Over the Use of the Hitler Emoji

The use of the Hitler Emoji has prompted a number of discussions online about the appropriateness of this particular emoji being used. A popular Reddit thread discusses the controversy surrounding the use of the Hitler Emoji and also discusses whether other emojis could be used to convey the same meaning. The thread displays a range of opinions on the matter, with some commenters pointing out that there are other alternatives that could be used in place of the Hitler Emoji, while others believe that it is simply a harmless reference. Moreover, there have been several online petitions calling for changes to the emoji icon. The first was launched in October 2016 by a Twitter user who describes himself as a former neo-Nazi. The petition calls for Apple Inc. (Apple) to change the icon for the Hitler Emoji, stating that, “Nazi imagery should never be used under any circumstances, let alone as an emoji.” The petition received over 160,000 signatures. There have been a number of other online petitions calling for the removal of the Hitler Emoji. In February 2017, a petition titled, “Remove the Symbol of Hate: Change the Icon of the Swastika to the Star of David,” was created on the Change.org website. The petition received over 100,000 signatures.

Conclusion

Emojis are a fun and convenient method of communication, but they have the potential to go too far when they are used in contexts that are inappropriate or offensive. The use of the Hitler Emoji is particularly problematic because it normalizes a hateful symbol associated with the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. While social media users are certainly allowed to criticize Hitler and the Nazi regime, they should be careful not to condone or encourage hateful ideologies by referring to the symbol in a casual manner.

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