According to crypto influencer Borovik.eth's tweet shared with the crypto community today, Coinbase sent out an email to its customers featuring an article with the fragment titled "What you should know about PEPE, the memecoin of the moment." This very email sparked so much public outrage that some Coinbase users decided to switch to another exchange platform or even sell their shares.
The reason was the description of the memecoin Coinbase provided in its email. While explaining that "the token is based on the Pepe the Frog meme, which forced surfaced the Internet nearly 20 years ago as a comic-strip character," it also added that "over the time, it has been co-opted as a hate symbol by alt-right groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League."
Many meme owners have taken the email personally, although this fragment of the email clearly states that Coinbase informs about the Anti-Defamation League's stance and also emphasizes that alt-right groups have adopted the meme over time, which implies the platform's team is aware that artist Matt Furie, the creator of Pepe, did not incorporate alt-right philosophy into his cartoon character.
"The thing is, they didn't explain any of the positive sides of the story. another fraud exposed. Sad to see it. Will be selling all myCoinbase shares tomorrow as well as moving funds held on the exchange to Gemini," tweeted Twitter user Cold, finding great support in the crypto community.
At the same time, some users suggested that it was a mistake. "Pepe is a huge incoming movement Brian Armstrong - surely the writer was ill-informed and a correction should be published. The Pepe character is a symbol of unity created by artist Matt Furie. See the documentary "Feels Good Man" for the Pepe story," Daniel4PEPE tweeted.
The situation escalated a little too quickly and was overloaded with emotions. It may be because PEPE owners felt they were negatively labeled for owning the memecoin of their favorite character, or it may be a sense of unfairness to the cartoon, which has nothing to do with the alt-right movement and was described by some of its fans as "fun, lighthearted and lovable." In fact, anyone can create new versions of already existing visual art, whether a new creation will turn Pepe the Frog into Hitler or depict Disney princesses in a provocative way.
Yet, it appears that the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based international Jewish non-governmental organization formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, has indeed added Pepe the Frog to its list of hate symbols.
However, the League points out, "The Pepe the Frog character did not originally have racist or antisemitic connotations. Internet users appropriated the character and turned it into a meme placing the frog in a variety of circumstances and saying many different things. Many variations of the meme became rather esoteric, resulting in the phenomenon of so-called 'rare Pepes,'" adding that "the majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted."
Nevertheless, the League, like Coinbase, states that "as the meme proliferated in online venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which have many users who delight in creating racist memes and imagery, a subset of Pepe memes would come into existence that centered on racist, antisemitic or other bigoted themes."
The League stresses how important it is "to examine the use of the meme only in context" because the majority of Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted.
"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 antisemitic 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 League's official website states.
Meanwhile, the PEPE community is calling for "deleting Coinbase" and at the time of publication, the hashtag #DELETECOINBASE was mentioned in over 70,400 tweets.
Amid the fierce dispute, the memecoin is experiencing a sharp decline in its market capitalization from over $1,825 million on May 6 to nearly $625 million at press time. The coin's price also dropped from $0.00000196 on May 6 to $0.00000154.