Google has banned an extension of its Chrome browser which was being used to identify Jewish names on the internet by surrounding them with three sets of brackets, or parentheses.
The brackets, known as (((echoes))), have become notorious in recent years in far right social media as an anti-Semitic punctuation-based code that has been used increasingly online by far right groups to single out people with Jewish sounding names for abuse.
The extension was titled the “coincidence detector” and was a direct reference to a popular conspiracy theory about Jewish people and their supposed clandestine global control and influence.
The extension was described sarcastically rather than ironically in the Chrome store as helping “you detect total coincidences about who has been involved in certain political movements and media empires.”
The extension was developed and released by a far-right group called ‘alt-right.’ At the time of blocking, it had around 2,500 users and a database of 8,800 common Jewish names which it could pick out on websites.
“The origins of the symbol ((())) can be traced to a hard-core, right-wing podcast called The Daily Shoah in 2014. It’s known as an “echo” in the anti-Semitic corners of the alt-right — a new, young, amorphous conservative movement that comprises trolls fluent in internet culture, free speech activists warring against political correctness and earnest white nationalists. Some use the symbol to mock Jews; others seek to expose supposed Jewish collusion in controlling media or politics. All use it to put a target on their heads.”
As a result of the now banned extension, several Jewish writers and others in the media have faced substantial anti-Semitic trolling by members of alt-right, and by other white supremacist groups.
Some have had to deal with threats of a far more serious nature, including death threats, offensive cartoon memes, and with one journalist being sent images of the Nazi concentration camps.