Coinbase, one of the world’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, is on the receiving end of some members of the crypto community’s outrage for calling the meme coin PEPE a symbol of hate. This controversy originated from the trading platform’s newsletter.
PEPE is a meme token based on a frog meme, which first appeared on the internet about 20 years ago as a comic-strip character. The meme coin gained rapid popularity after its public launch in April 2023. It is currently ranked as the 66th largest cryptocurrency by market cap as per Coingecko’s ranking.
Why Did Coinbase Label PEPE as a Hate Symbol?
Despite PEPE’s apparent success, Coinbase seems to have a different opinion on the matter. In its email newsletter sent on May 11, 2023, the crypto exchange referred to a decision made by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which classified the frog-looking characters as a symbol of hate.
“The token is based on the Pepe the Frog meme, which first surfaced on the internet nearly 20 years ago as a comic-strip character. Over time it has been co-opted as a hate symbol by alt-right groups according to the Anti-Defamation League,” the Coinbase newsletter
Some Crypto Enthusiasts Threatening to Cancel Coinbase
The hate symbol label did not sit well with the PEPE meme coin community. A lot of crypto investors have threatened to pull out their investments from Coinbase, because of the faux pas. Crypto Twitter is now on fire because of the displeasure being aired by PEPE supporters. Some are demanding an apology from the exchange.
The meme coin’s supporters argue that Coinbase’s stance on PEPE is misguided and unfair, as the token has nothing to do with hate or extremism. They claim that PEPE is a symbol of fun, creativity, and freedom of expression in the crypto space.
This unwelcome bad publicity is not looking good for Coinbase since the exchange is also in a legal tussle with the SEC. The platform is already trying to fend off U.S. regulators, and it is now faced with a possible war front against the meme coin army. Calls to pull out funds and to short Coinbase stock will probably negatively affect the company.
Was PEPE Really Labeled as a Hate Symbol?
We checked out the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) site to check what was said about PEPE. And according to ADL, the popular meme does not originally have racist or anti-Semitic connotations. The league even suggested examining the context of how the meme was used.
“…Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine [the]use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is [a] racist or white supremacist. However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes”Anti-Defamation League
The ADL is right that PEPE is not inherently a hate symbol and it is important to examine how it was used or the intention behind sharing a meme. In a way, PEPE and crypto are in the same boat. PEPE is being labeled as a hate symbol, while crypto is being labeled as a risky asset. What a lot don’t understand is that we have to examine how they are being used. Memes and crypto are just tools whose use is dependent on the intent of the users.
Read about the Coinbase newsletter here
Other interesting articles:
- Coinbase Remains Strong Despite Regulatory Worries, Launches New International Exchange
- Will Coinbase Integrate with the Popular Bitcoin Lightning Network?
- SEC Targets Coinbase with Wells Notice on Staking & Asset Listings
Featured Image from Pixabay