How the Facebook ‘Wow’ Reaction Became a Symbol of the Alt-Right

An innocent emoji that became a symbol of hate


The Facebook “wow” reaction, seemingly an innocent emoji used to show surprise, has recently been commandeered by the Alt-Right. Members have been using it as a covert method of showing support for racist and bigoted posts, without risking criticism from non-racists, or “normies”. 

The American Tribune exposed this practice earlier this week. Many were left wondering what the meaning behind the symbol is. We have done some digging, and found that there are actually two secret meanings of the wow react. These meanings are illustrated in this diagram.

As shown here, there are clear reasons why the Alt-Right would choose the wow reaction. It’s easy to see how the practice caught on, given the secret meaning behind it, and its ease of use.

Additionally, while someone without this knowledge would not assume that the wow reaction is a symbol in support of racism, the angry reaction is much more commonly used to show disapproval of a bigoted post. The  under-utilization of the wow reaction on these posts gave the Alt-Right the ability to establish this as a fairly reliable means of communication.

By exposing this practice, we hope to break the security that the Alt-Right currently enjoys with this code. By doing this, we can reclaim the wow reaction, so that everyone can use it without fear of unintentionally supporting these bigots. Please share, so that we can “wow” without worry!