Racism on social media has reared its ugly head again in the form of coded language meant to bypass censorship. The new slang allows users to use racial slurs out in the open without being detected—until now, that is—with code words like “Skittle,” Skype,” and “Yahoo.”
In a tweet by Gimlet Media CEO Alex Goldman that went viral, some of these code words were explained: "Skype" for Jewish people, "Skittle" for Muslim and Arab people, and "Yahoo" for Mexicans or Latino/as. It seems that the "Skittle" code word came from Donald Trump Jr.’s tweet, in which he posted an image comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles with the image reading: “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?” A search for the mentioned code words on Twitter turns up tons of tweets, including ones dating before the slang was made public.
Racist Trump twitter has come up with a new coded way to share racial slurs w/ each other and avoid account suspension. pic.twitter.com/J4AmaHFVCd— Alex Goldman (@AGoldmund) October 1, 2016
Skypes are greedy, Googles loot, yahoos cross the border, skittles poison. No no no we can't take anymore. We stop this now!— Brighton Whytock 🌐 (@brightonus33) October 1, 2016
Google war now, delete the skypes!— Alt Right (@_AltRight_) October 1, 2016
According to Buzzfeed News, the code began on 4chan under the name “Operation Google” in an effort to beat the Google Jigsaw program, which detects hate speech. The plan was devised, in part, to get Google to scrub out mentions of its own name.
Searches for the code words also revealed that many users tweeting the coded slurs are Donald Trump supporters, including some neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Trump has tweeted out neo-Nazi imagery several times, and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said not voting for Trump would be “treason to your heritage.” Last week, the Pepe the Frog character was declared a symbol of hate after it was hijacked by racist social media users and Donald Trump supporters.