Binance created a Twitter emoji that looks a lot like a swastika, then deleted it after facing a swift backlash
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, is still getting to grips with global branding.
On Wednesday, Binance tweeted out a new Twitter emoji, known as a hashflag, that is essentially a logo designed to accompany mentions of Binance online. But the crypto exchange swiftly reversed the release hours later, after Twitter users pointed out that the spiraled logo looks an awful lot like a swastika.
In Buddhism and other Asian religions, the swastika symbolizes good fortune. But to most of the Western world, the symbol is more closely associated with Nazism and the Holocaust. Binance, which was founded in China, tweeted out a mea culpa after it deleted the offending emoji, ultimately replacing it with a design that looks more like its regular logo.
This isn’t the first time Binance has accidentally alluded to the Holocaust during one of its marketing campaigns.
In 2017, the company shared a promotional tweet that featured a six-pointed star resembling the Star of David, integral to Jewish iconography, as well as the word “gas” in bold letters. In crypto parlance, “gas” refers to transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain.
Binance didn’t respond to Fortune’s request for comment. But the five-year-old exchange, which was founded in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao, now one of the wealthiest men in the world, isn’t the only Asian company in recent years to commit a faux pas regarding swastikas.
In 2020 the Chinese fashion retailer Shein, which has gained a massive following in North America, apologized and removed a necklace featuring a swastika pendant from its store, after social media users accused the brand of promoting anti-Semitism.
“The Buddhist symbol has stood for spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years, and has a different design than the Nazi swastika which stands for hate—but frankly, that doesn’t matter because we should’ve been more considerate of the symbol’s hurtful connotations to so many people around the world, and we didn’t,” the brand said.
But even Western brands have made the mistake of attempting to rehabilitate the swastika as a symbol of peace. Last year, Instagram launched a filter that appeared to cover users in tattoos—including a small tattoo of a swastika.
When users pointed out the controversial imagery, the Russian designer who created the filter said the swastika “symbolizes good, the sun and life” while Instagram’s parent company, Meta, said the image didn’t violate community guidelines because the swastika “can be used in a cultural context that predates Nazism.”
Nevertheless, after initially saying it wouldn’t remove the tattoo filter, Instagram did update the design to replace the swastika with a sun.
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