Internet meme Pepe the Frog deemed a 'hate symbol'

Internet meme Pepe the Frog deemed a 'hate symbol'

An internet meme which been doing the round for the last eight years has been deemed a hate symbol.

Pepe the Frog has now joined the swastika and the Confederate flag on the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) 'Hate on Display' database.

The meme began in 2008 but now, thanks to "4chan, 8chan, and Reddit", ADL says, it's turned dark.

"The use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing."

ADL says while Pepe - also known as the 'sad frog meme' - isn't inherently racist or anti-Semitic, there's been a rise in bigoted Pepes from members of the political movement known as the 'alt-right', who've rallied around Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

"Because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context," ADL says.

"The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is 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."

The decision comes after Mr Trump tweeted a picture of himself drawn as Pepe, and his son Donald Trump Jr posted an Instagram image of "the Deplorables" - which contained the same image of Pepe Trump.

Cartoonist Matt Furie created the original Pepe in 2005 and told The Atlantic he was "just a chill frog" earlier this month.

And in true meme fashion, he accepted the way people use the frog is out of his control.

"I think people in whatever dark corners of the internet are just trying to one up each other on how shocking they can make Pepe appear," Furie said.

"I think what is happening now is overshadowing the importance Pepe has as a symbol for youth culture, and it's been taken out of context and turned into something other than that. I honestly just think it's a phase."

But until that phase ends, the beloved frog will remain branded as a hate symbol.