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Over the past several months, a subset of internet pranksters and white nationalists—if there is even a difference between the two these days—have adopted a clownified version of Pepe the Frog as their mascot.
Honk Honk the Clown almost crossed over to the mainstream when far-right power tweeter James Woods shared a meme of it, but it hasn’t garnered much attention or cause for consternation.
Still, Honk Honk has the sort of same wink and nod that the OK sign had, where you could use it and claim it isn’t racist—”it’s just a clown meme”—but also use it as a dog whistle to people who have beliefs like yours. And because it is frequently couched in the form of a joke, the people who use it can claim tech companies or journalists are overreacting when by declaring a meme or hand sign a symbol of white supremacy.
Like Wednesday, when a YouTuber who goes by Garbage Human implied Facebook is flagging the word “honk” for no reason.
According to a Facebook spokesperson, posts that with the phrase “honk” in them that may have been flagged contained some other troubling behavior patterns the site bans, such as images that may have involved “organized hate.”
But whether it’s used as a flag for white nationalism or in good-faith, this certainly won’t be the last you’ll hear of “honk.”
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]