How 4chan Trolled An Entire Nation

1 year ago By Tariq Fahmy


Back in 2016, at one of Hillary Clinton’s rallies, someone suddenly yelled “PEPE” right after she said “Alt Right”. This seemingly random act sparked a series of events that led to the meme being declared a national symbol of hate. So what is this meme? Who yelled Pepe? And what could have possibly happened that would lead an innocuous frog meme into becoming a hate symbol, like a swastika or writing KKK?



First of all, what is 4chan?

It’s a forum with a lot of weird, twisted and mostly f*cked up posts and topics, with users obsessed with trolling almost anyone, from feminists to people who feel like they’ve been oppressed because of their race. And it’s not like they’re inherently sexists or racists, they just do it because they love trolling people. They’d actually go out of their way just to do it. There are, as described by one of the members, over 9000, and I quote “shit-posters” from Canada alone. These people have nothing better to do with their life but to troll others. They get twisted pleasure out of it.



Hillary Clinton was a good candidate and we were all surprised so see her lose, but apparently she had a history of saying things that pissed off a lot of 4chan users. In one of her speeches she blamed video games  as a source of current-day violence, and this is what sparked the 4chan community into action. They decided to use Pepe the frog to troll her campaign.

Now Pepe is a very simple, very old meme that originated in 2005 when Matt Furie created a comic series called Boy’s Club, with Pepe as a main character. In 2008, a comic in which Pepe pulls his pants down to his ankles in order to urinate was popularized on 4chan’s /b/, (random) board, along with the expression “Feels good man.” And that’s how the Pepe the frog meme went viral.



The Trolling Only Needed One Word

What they did on the 4chan forum was agree on one thing: they’ll use Pepe the frog as a symbol of white supremacy to troll both Democrats and Republicans alike, but without actually posting or stating so online. How? They’d let people make the connection themselves. So one of the 4chan members went to one of Hillary’s rallies and, as agreed upon by the forum, waited until Hillary said “Alt Right”, then yelled “PEPE”. People suddenly started to ask: what was the connection between Pepe and the alternative right, who were associated with white supremacy?



National news started to question the link between Pepe the frog and the racist alt-right, and soon after, David Duke, one of America’s most infamous white supremacists, tweeted a photo of Pepe. Trump’s son posted an Instagram picture of his father and Pepe the frog, later claiming he didn’t know there was a negative connotation to the frog. Following that incident, photoshopped images of Trump holding a baby Pepe started to roam across the internet.

Everyone who was pro alt-right and dumb enough was tweeting images of Pepe, and everyone who was against alt-right and dumb enough was protesting against Pepe. Hillary and her supporters denounced the use of the Pepe meme, naming him a symbol of white supremacy.  And thus Pepe became the meme mascot of white power, with the Anti-Defamation League adding it to their official database of hate symbols used to “harass and spread hate on social media”, where it remains until today. Meanwhile the guys at 4chan are having the time of their lives.



What’s the lesson learned from all of this? Never try and bully millennials, you’ll only be trolled back and way worse than expected. They’re capable of things you never knew existed.



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