The "OK" Symbol is a hand gesture typically used to signal that "all is well." The symbol has been frequently associated with supporters of the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump, with some speculating it is used by members of the alt-right to mimic a Smug Frog depiction of Pepe the Frog. Additionally, the symbol has been accused of being a symbol for "white power" following a 4chan hoax operation to trick news media outlets into reporting that it is a symbol of white supremacy.
Throughout many parts of the world, the hand gesture made when connected one's thumb and index finger into a circle while holding three finger straight up is considering synonymous with the word "OK," signifying that "all is well."
Association with Trump Support
On April 9th, 2015, conservative Viner Pizza Party Ben posted a video of himself making an OK hand gesture while saying "We should chill" with the description "White guys be like" (shown below, left). Sometime during the 2016 United States presidential election, Pizza Party Ben and Milo Yiannopoulos began making the gesture together at various events supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump (shown below, right).
On November 9th, 2016, Yiannopoulos posted a photograph of himself standing with Viner Mike Ma making the hand gesture at Donald Trump's election night party following the 2016 United States presidential election. On December 3rd, Malik Obama tweeted a picture of himself making the symbol while wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, along with the caption "I look like Pepe the Frog" (shown below). Within four months, the tweet gained over 14,000 likes and 7,400 retweets.
On February 13th, 2017, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft tweeted a photograph of himself and White House correspondent Lucian Wintrich standing behind the White House press briefing room lectern while making the hand gesture (shown below). That day, the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters published an article about the photograph, accusing the gesture of being a "hate symbol." Meanwhile, the official Media Matter Twitter account tweeted the article, calling the gesture a "racist Pepe hand signal." That day, several Twitter users mocked Media Matters for labeling the gesture a symbol of hate.
On March 7th, 2017, the news site Mediaite published an article titled "Is That Cute Kid Trump Met at the White House Today Making the Pepe Symbol?," highlighting a video of a young student making the hand symbol while visiting the White House (shown below, left). On March 10th, Twitter user Ian Miles Chong tweeted photographs of several celebrities making the gesture, along with the joke "Look at all these white supremacists giving the 'white power' sign smh" (shown below, right).
In February 2017, 4chan users launched Operation O-KKK to "flood Twitter and other social media websites" with posts claiming the OK hand symbol was a "symbol of white supremacy," along with a picture of an OK symbol identifying the three up-turned fingers as a symbol for "W" and the thumb-and-forefinger circle as a symbol for "P" (shown below).
On April 28th, 2017, Fusion reporter Emma Roller retweeted a photo of reporter Cassandra Fairbanks along with the caption "Just two people doing a white power hand gesture in the White House" (shown below, left). Within 72 hours, the tweet gained over 7,000 likes and 6,700 retweets. That same day, Roller tweeted the "white power" OP-KKK image as evidence (shown below, right).
The following day, journalist Tim Pool retweeted Roller with the comment "Journalism is dead," which received upwards of 9,000 likes and 4,100 retweets within 48 hours. Also on April 29th, Pool posted a video titled "4chan Has Become Too Powerful," which discussed the ease at which 4chan succeeded in the operation (shown below).
On April 30th, The Independent published an article claiming the "The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) characterises the symbol as a 'racist hand sign'," citing an entry in the ADL database of a woman holding a hand in the form of a "W" next to a hand formed to make the letter "P" (shown below). That day, BuzzFeed published an article titled "The Trump Internet Keeps Making Fake Hate Symbols, And People Keep Falling For It."
On May 2nd, The Observer published an article written by 4chan moderator Jay Irwin, which included a statement from Cernovich denying any knowledge of the "white power" association and claiming that it was initially inspired by Jay Z and Beyoncé:
"It started off as a joke about Jay Z. He and Beyoncé used to do it, and some said it was an Illuminati symbol. We started doing it as a joke, and it took on a life of its own."
Kanye West Photo
On April 25th, 2018, Kanye West tweeted a photograph of himself posing with two men while wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, with one of the men making the OK symbol gesture (shown below). Within two hours, the tweet gained over 59,000 likes and 16,000 retweets.
That day, the progressive news blog Think Progress published an article titled "Just what kind of hand gesture is in Kanye’s latest tweet?" Meanwhile, Twitter user Krang T. Nelson posted the photo juxtaposed with a screen capture from the 2017 horror film Get Out (shown below).
On September 4th, 2018, footage of Zina Bash seated behind Kavanaugh at the hearing began circulating on Twitter, with some accusing her of intentionally making a "white power" gesture with her hand (shown below).
Coast Guard Employee
On September 14th, 2018, Twitter user @huppkels tweeted a video showing a member of the coast guard placing his thumb and index finger together on the side of his head in the background of an MSNBC interview with the Coast Guard's Sector Charleston Commanding Officer Capt. John Reed (shown below).
Am I being crazy? Is anyone else seeing what I am here? pic.twitter.com/dg6WNzhjqF— Kelsey Hupp (@huppkels) September 14, 2018
The video was widely circulated on Twitter, with some accusing the man of making a "white power" gesture. That evening, the official U.S. Coast Guard Twitter feed posted an announcement that the man had been identified and that they "removed him from the response" (shown below).
On September 15th, YouTuber Anthony Brian Logan uploaded a video on the controversy in which he criticized the removal of the officer (shown below).
On March 15th, 2019, Brenton Tarrant, the suspected shooter responsible for the 2019 Christchurch Mosque Shootings, was photographed making the hand gesture during his first court appearance (shown below).
In the coming days, several news sites reported that Tarrant had flashed the "white power" sign, including Slate, The Daily Beast and Al Jazeera. The following day, Twitter user Tariq Nasheed tweeted the photo, along with pictures of PewDiePie making a similar gesture (shown below). Shortly after, the tweet reached the front page of /r/KotakuInAction.
Meanwhile, Redditor Dawg7mike submitted a post asking "What’s the deal with the okay sign being associated with white supremacy?" to /r/OutOfTheLoop, where the top-voted comment cited the 4chan operation:
"Answer: some people on 4chan tried to convince others that the ok sign means white power because the extended fingers look like a w and the index, thumb and wrist resemble a p."
Chicago Cubs Fan
On May 7th, 2019, an unidentified man wearing a Chicago Cubs sweatshirt was recorded making the sign behind NBC Sports Chicago reporter Doug Glanville. That evening, Twitter user Chad Rehan tweeted a video from the broadcast, speculating it was a "white supremacy sign" (shown below).
Am I seeing things or is this jack wagon behind Glanville flashing the white supremacy sign?— Chad Rehan (@ChadRehan) May 8, 2019
SarahSpain</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BleacherNation?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">BleacherNation pic.twitter.com/6p7d79vIVR
Several hours after the game, the Chicago Cubs president of business operations Crane Kennedy issued a statement about the controversy:
"An individual seated behind Mr. Glanville used what appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism,” Kenney said. “Such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field. We are reviewing the incident thoroughly because no one should be subjected to this type of offensive behavior. Any derogatory conduct should be reported immediately to our ballpark staff. Any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field."
On Twitter, many accused the man of making a white power symbol, while others argued he was playing the Circle Game.
 Media Matters – A Dangerous Troll Is Now Reporting From The White House
 Think Progress – Just what kind of hand gesture is in Kanyes latest tweet?
 Chicago Tribune – The Cubs are investigating a fans alleged racist hand gesture