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Google removes racist Chrome extension used by Neo-Nazis to target people with Jewish-sounding names

The app called itself a 'conicidence detector' - a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory that Jewish people secretly controlled the media, banks and governments

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 05 June 2016 18:37 BST
Antisemites use the triple parenthesis to target Jewish people for abuse and intimidation online
Antisemites use the triple parenthesis to target Jewish people for abuse and intimidation online

Google has removed a Chrome extension from its online store it was revealed to be being used by Neo-Nazis to identify and target people with Jewish-sounding names online.

The Echo app was designed to work in the background of the internet browser and would highlight Jewish-sounding names and the full names of high-profile Jewish individuals when they appear on any webpage using three sets of parenthesis.

The app called itself a “coincidence detector” - a reference to the conspiracy theory put about by far-right groups and antisemites that influential Jewish people are secretly in control of the media, the government and the financial industry.

It works by using a database of popular Jewish names as well as names of prominent Jewish people such as Michael Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York.

His name would appear as (((Michael Bloomberg))) on any webpage where his name appeared while the extension was installed.

Users were also invited to submit their own suggestions.

The supposed goal of the app was to highlight supposed links between high-profile Jewish figures to prove the far-right’s theories about the secret Jewish plot they believe is being concealed by the mainstream media.

The parenthesis have used as a symbol to alert users to people they would then target with online abuse for at least two years, news website Mic reports.

Michael Bloomberg is one the prominent Jewish figures who has had his name put into the database

Its origins can be traced back to a far-right podcast called The Daily Shoah in 2014 - it is supposed to represent the “echoes” of a beacon calling on others to target them.

These antisemitic social media users, known as the “alt-right”, are predominantly young online trolls who use the symbol to mock, intimidate and target Jewish people.

One Twitter user called it “closed captioning for the Jew blind”.

This far-right fringe has reportedly been emboldened by the popularity of Donald Trump, the prospective Republican presidential nominee, and his populist rhetoric.

One of the victims of the technique, Washington Post deputy editor Jonathan Weisman, wrote about being the subject of online harassment from an account called @CyberTrump.

When he asked his abuser why he was using the parenthesis, @CyberTrump responded saying “It’s a dog whistle, fool. Belling the cat for my fellow goyim”.

Before Google deleted the app in response to the Mic article, the extension had 2,473 users and a five star rating.

Although some criticised the app in the comments section and demanded it be removed, others praised the app saying they were going to give it to their children.

One wrote: “I’m going to install this on my son’s ipad and see whether the notices any more coincidences (connections between Jewish people)”.

Jonathan Sacerdoti director of communications at the Campaign Against Antisemitism told The Independent that internet companies needed to do more to “keep up to speed” with the changing techniques used by antisemites to target Jewish people.

He said: “In the past they have been too slow to react decisively to stop the abuse of Jewish people, often relying on slow and cumbersome systems for users to report anti-Jewish abuse, and then taking too long to deal with the abuse.

“Online or offline, Jewish people must be protected from hatred and abuse, and we must all join in the effort to fight antisemitism."

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