Yesterday, Paul Grewal, Coinbase chief legal officer, posted a tweet with apologies, saying "We screwed up and we are sorry" for " not providing the whole picture of the history of the meme," referring to the recent article on the memecoin's performance distributed by the crypto exchange to its customers in a newsletter.
This article sparked outrage in the PEPE community due to the historical and cultural background of the Pepe the Frog meme provided by the leading cryptocurrency exchange, especially its particular fragment, titled "What you should know about PEPE, the memecoin of the moment." It contained the following description, "The token is based on the Pepe the Frog meme, which forced surfaced the Internet nearly 20 years ago as a comic-strip character. Over the time, it has been co-opted as a hate symbol by alt-right groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League."
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish non-governmental organization, does have Pepe the Frog on its list of hate symbols but stresses that the character "did not originally have racist or antisemitic connotations" and "it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist."
Still, many coin holders accused the exchange of spreading false information.
After a series of hateful tweets, promises to switch to other exchange platforms and sell Coinbase shares, and thousands of posts containing the hashtag #deletecoinbase, the infuriated community received a public apology from Grewal, who explained that Coinbase wanted to provide "a fact-based picture of a trending topic."
It seems that this reaction of Coinbase CLO to the public outcry has not satisfied the PEPE community. The majority of its members believe that Coinbase should now do something "to make it right," such as "sending an email correcting the misinformation and apologizing for the mistake," issuing a public apology via the official Coinbase Twitter account, or listing PEPE.
Some Twitter users like Josh f threatened the exchange with a class action lawsuit, saying, "Coinbase make this right by an email apology and listing PEPE. Maybe we, the community, should consider a class action lawsuit against Coinbase," while others fueled the situation with the criticism for both the exchange and the PEPE community, "Wow, they tried to turn something that is not racist into something that is racist and used the alt-right to tie the narrative together, and you want them to make it right? Hilariously hypocritical coming from you."
The PEPE community is upset
The price of PEPE is still fluctuating. Today, the coin's value fluctuated between $0.00000109 and $0.00000131. Although PEPE is currently experiencing a price increase, its market capitalization continues to decline, reaching nearly $505.335 million today, compared to almost $625 million yesterday and over $1.825 billion on May 6.
This is probably why so many PEPE investors are rather sensitive about any negative comment on the token, no matter how small. The urge to keep PEPE away from any unfavorable opinions that could potentially affect its value led to even more conflicts.
For example, Joe Hall, a journalist at Cointelegraph, described his experience of dealing with a flood of negative messages from the PEPE community, "Death threats, viral rap videos, and a stream of frog-themed insults. That's the state of my social media profiles after hosting a Twitter Space on May 8 about PEPE, the new token based on the "Pepe" meme," wondering, "How is a token that's barely one month old generating such high levels of harassment, toxic behavior, and diehard commitment?"
"I'm currently doing my best to not lose my mind on this Twitter Space. I'll share my DMs in a follow-up thread. The PEPE community is actually very unpleasant - who knew," Hall posted a Twitter thread with examples of direct messages he had to confront after the Twitter Space.
According to Hall, he is not the only person now facing a barrage of insults for sharing his personal opinion about the future of the PEPE coin. For instance, crypto lawyer Irina Heaver even received personalized death threats, triggered by what Hall called an ironic prediction of PEPE going to zero.
The journalist also claims that the PEPE token crypto community is in conflict with the original Pepe Reddit community itself.