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Those ‘Gnome Hunting’ TikToks on Your FYP Are Just Another Dog Whistle for Hate

A woman sits at her laptop, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration.

**Content warning: Antisemitism, alt-right hate**

Social media is no stranger to the alt-right and hate groups. Older social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have grappled with groups and individuals spreading hateful ideologies for years, to varying degrees of success (with Twitter failing on a whole new level since Musk retained ownership).

Now it seems that alt-right groups are moving to newer platforms such as TikTok. In a new trend, neo-Nazis are currently making videos about ‘Gnome Hunting’. Not only is it something that should be of concern to the app because of its guidelines, but the videos have been landing on the FYPs of those from more innocent, non-violent corners of the web.

While content about “gnomes” might be suggested for users with an interest in more innocuous subjects like folklore and cute cryptids, the term is actually being used as code for those who aren’t Aryan. These videos are targeting folks in the LGBTQ+ community, feminists, people of color, and of course, Jewish people.

TikTok user susansandstoemborn made a video warning others about the trend’s facade and says that she almost got dragged into it. She believes—and I think that she’s right—that the use of gnomes is to specifically target those who are on fairytok, DNDtok, and those, as she described it, into “nerd shit”. She said that she believed that it was genuinely a cute trend and couldn’t wait to go looking for garden gnomes.

This TikTok shows the types of videos that Nazis are posting, and to me, they look creepy as hell. I can see how someone could mistake it for some good fun but the comments are incredibly disturbing when you know the true meaning. Those comments include known dog-whistles (i.e. “millions wear the hats”) and overt calls for violence like “and millions must be found,” and “millions must hide, millions must pay, millions must die.”

Users who are posting the videos are using mushroom emojis along with two lightning bolts (a symbol for the SS). The use of gnomes wasn’t just plucked out of thin air either. In an article about Hanukkah merch, The Mary Sue writer Julia Glassman explains that these figurines have antisemitic origins which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and that they are usually portrayed as characters who are criminals or have deceitful intentions.

(featured image: nensuria/Getty Images)

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Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.