Messaging app Telegram accused of anti-semitism

Messaging app Telegram is accused of anti-semitism after it auto-suggested the money bag emoji to users who typed the word ‘Jew’

  • Desktop users saw a money bag symbol with the Star of David and the dollar sign
  • The emoji had been approved by an employee after a user proposed it for ‘Jew’ 
  • According to a representative it was a ‘mistake’ by the approver on the system
  • The symbols were apparently removed quickly after being reported  

Popular instant messaging app Telegram has come under fire after it reportedly suggested the money bag and dollar sign emojis to users who typed the word ‘Jew’.

It has been dubbed an anti-semitic trope by the Jewish community and allegedly occurred due to a ‘mistake’ from a Telegram staffer. 

An editor at the British newspaper the Jewish Chronicle called the episode ‘gobsmacking’ and said the app should ‘take a hard look at the process by which its emojis are chosen and approved.’  

The symbols and their connection to the term ‘Jew’ had apparently been submitted by a user for sharing and was approved without the employee noticing the link. It went unnoticed until stunned users stumbled across it by accident and reported it to Telegram. The glitch has now been corrected.

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A ‘mistake’ by the popular instant messaging app Telegram has led to the money sac and dollar sign emoji to appear for the word ‘Jew’ for some of its users (file photo) 

Ynet, an Israeli news publication, first reported the issue.

It claimed the desktop version of the instant messaging app showed up a sack of silver and dollar signs as an emoji for when the Hebrew characters for the word ‘Jew’ were entered. 

The emojis appeared alongside the more traditional symbols for Judaism, such as a synagogue and the Star of David. 

According to the Israeli newspaper, a representative for Telegram said the mistake happened after a Telegram user submitted a proposal that the emojis be used for the word ‘Jew’.

It then became approved ‘by mistake’ after a Telegram employee did not notice the proposal and let it through the net, said the representative.

Ynet said the emojis were removed soon after being reported. MailOnline has approached Telegram for comment. 

The free application lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 200,000 people. It reportedly said the anti-semitic emoji issue was a ‘mistake’ 

Speaking to MailOnline, Orlando Radice, assistant editor at the Jewish Chronicle, said: ‘It’s gobsmacking that this antisemitic trope – the most common of them all – appears to have found its way onto the Telegram desktop app.


The free application lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 200,000 people.

The app has proved to be incredibly popular. 

Last March, it announced within the last 30 days, Telegram was used by 200 million people.

‘This is an insane number by any standards,’ the firm said.

‘If Telegram were a country, it would have been the sixth largest country in the world.’  

‘The company needs to take a hard look at the process by which its emojis are chosen and approved.’ 

While it is not known exactly how the ‘trope’ occurred, it may have happened through the app’s open platform that lets users make their own stickers and emojis for wider use.

Anyone can submit a sticker to be used by all app users. 

Telegram wrote about the policy on their website: ‘Telegram is focused on people who like to create content.

‘If you want your sticker to be seen by all Telegram users in the context menu corresponding to one of the emojis, you are welcome to submit it via a chat with our Stickers bot.’

Telegram is considered one of the most secure instant messaging apps and is particularly popular among political activists for sending secure messages.

The app allows users to exchange multimedia information in groups up to 200,000 people and claims to also offer end-to-end encrypted voice calls. 

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