The OK hand gesture emote has been removed from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019); most likely due to the false assumption of the gesture being a white supremacist symbol.
Zero Hedge reports that numerous players of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) have discovered the OK emote had been removed from the game [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This is likely due to the wide-spread misconception that the gesture also represents white supremacy.
The association with the OK gesture as a white supremacist symbol began as a prank from message board 4Chan [1, 2]. After some had associated the OK gesture with then US presidential nominee Donald Trump and his supporters (and that in turn it was associated with the “Pepe” meme and racism), 4Chan attempted to prank those individuals into appearing alarmist.
In 2017, the users of 4Chan’s /pol/ board (a board for political discussion) began to create a prank; believing that many mainstream media websites would latch onto any sensationalist story about symbols for Nazis or white supremacists in relation to Trump without fact-checking.
They created false infographs that the OK hand gesture a symbol for white power- the three upheld fingers representing a W, and the index finger, thumb, and part of the wrist forming a P. “W” and “P” for White Power.
The ADL has also been criticized for claiming Steam was “harboring” extremist user posts and content, and their overreaching and unrealistic demands to solve the supposed issue. Further, the ADL have been criticized for deeming anti-ANTIFA symbols and the phrase “It’s OK to be White” as hateful.
With mainstream news outlets claiming the gesture was genuine, many individuals were falsely accused of supporting white supremacists; including a coast-guard, an attorney, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a Chicago Cubs baseball fan, and 18 highschool students resulting in a school yearbook having to be reprinted for $53,000.
After the protests and riots in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, the launch of Season 4 of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), Call of Duty: Warzone, and Season 7 of Call of Duty: Mobile were postponed. A message in support of Black Lives Matter was latter added to loading screens in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) and Call of Duty: Warzone.
It is entirely possible that the OK hand gesture was removed to show further solidarity with anti-hate movements. As there are many both debunking and reinforcing the gesture’s new meaning, it is likely Activision and developer Infinity Ward err’d on the side of caution.
UPDATE: Blizzard Entertainment (a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard) also reportedly banned a fan in the audience of an Overwatch League tournament in 2019 for making the OK hand gesture. Blizzard Entertainment also reportedly “openly discouraged” the use of Pepe the Frog memes by fans and players during tournaments.