The neo-Nazis who were using three parentheses to target Jewish people online are now easily identifiable themselves due to the work of one anonymous web developer.
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A new site called Echo Location displays a live stream of anyone posting on Twitter with the echo symbol and allows users to search for specific tweets with three parentheses as well.
The echo symbol, which has been used by neo-Nazis as 3 parentheses around the start and end of a Jewish person’s name, has become the subject of increased media attention last week . Prominent Jewish journalists such as Jeffrey Goldberg at Atlantic and Jon Weisman at The New York Times have also reclaimed it by putting it around their names.
After the echo symbol came to light, the developer noticed that the parentheses remained unsearchable on most forms of social media and allowed neo-Nazis to continue using it without getting caught. After connecting to the Twitter Streaming API, he created a site that brings up most tweets that contain the characters and displays them in a live stream.
The developer, who has been involved in anti-racist activism before, wishes to remain anonymous due to the increased risk of becoming targeted online for his work.
“It kind of looks like Nazis are not exactly happy that people are talking about [the symbol],” he said.
The site now exposes approximately 500 tweets with the symbol each day since Saturday, when it went live. The developer said that at least half of the tweets that now come across the stream are from people who are either commenting on the parentheses, reclaiming the symbol or using them for unrelated purposes. That said, it also occasionally exposes neo-Nazis who use the symbol.
“It’s like looking at a Nazi propaganda movie, but a color, HD version of that,” he said. “[..] It’s like we’re a hundred years back in the 30s.”
He also said that he would consider revealing his identity if he starts to feel that anonymity is interfering with the goals of the site. Right now, however, he feels that remaining anonymous will help him create future projects if neo-Nazis develop new ways of targeting people online.
“Hopefully this will annoy them enough that they’ll remember that they’re not the only ones around and whatever they say is not the truth,” he said.