Coinbase Legal Officer Responds to PEPE Uproar Following Newsletter Calling the Memecoin a “Hate Symbol”
Twitter got a bit heated on Thursday after memecoin PEPE enthusiasts jumped on the social media site with the hashtag #DeleteCoinbase trending after a newsletter was posted by the exchange calling the coin a “hate symbol.”
Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal has since responded Thursday afternoon to the uproar.
“We screwed up and we are sorry,” Grewal tweeted. “Yesterday we shared an overview of the $pepe meme coin to provide a fact-based picture of a trending topic. This did not provide the whole picture of the history of the meme and we apologize to the community.”
PEPE was created as a tribute to the Pepe the Frog internet meme — a cartoon frog with a mischievous grin.
PEPE’s value exploded from late April to May with a market cap close to $1.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.
The top crypto exchange in the US mentioned the burgeoning PEPE in a newsletter on Wednesday, calling it a “hate symbol.”
“The token is based on the Pepe the Frog meme, which first surfaced on the internet nearly 20 years ago as a comic-strip character,” Coinbase said. “Over time it has been co-opted as a hate symbol by alt-right groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League.”
The Anti-Defamation League is a New-York based anti-hate organization.
PEPE is the only memecoin other than DogeCoin and Shiba Inu to be in the top 100 cryptocurrencies by overall market cap, Coinbase said.
Currently, PEPE is just available through Coinbase Wallet.
PEPE's price has dropped drastically over the past several hours.
PEPE fans threatened to delete Coinbase and move to other crypto exchanges in the wake of the newsletter.
One user with about 9,000 followers asked “Who else from the $PEPE family is going to #deletecoinbase?”
Others said they were making “large deposits” on crypto exchange Gemini.
The memecoin has been labeled as a hate symbol, but did not originally have racists or antisemitic connotations, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The number of “alt right” Pepe memes have grown over the years, the group said.
“Though Pepe memes have many defenders, the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing,” the organization said.