Don’t like baseball? Red flag. Say you will pay someone back later? Red Flag. Put pineapple on a pizza? Red Flag. You may be seeing Red flag emojis memes all over your social media feeds today, but in this case, those emojis are typically not meant as a literal warning of impending danger.
Twitter is in engulfed with Red flag warnings this week. And thanks to the red flag emoji, Twitter users can punctuate a tweet with the symbol, or even use a while row of them to show something is troublesome. This is a new viral trend on the platform as users are tweeting the red flag emoji to talk about opinions and behaviors they find to be, well, Red flags.
The Twitter platform says it’s seen a 455% increase over the last week in tweets using the emoji in the United States. Tuesday saw 1.5 million red-flag-emoji tweets globally.
Outside of Twitter and other social media platforms, the phrase of red flag was mostly used as a warning. Merriam-Webster defines red flag as a “warning signal or sign,” or “something that indicates or draws attention to a problem, danger, or irregularity.” The dictionary pinpoints the first usage of red flag as a noun dating back to 1748.
Now, the red flag meme you’re seeing on your screens is being used to convey what some people determine to be conversation deal-breakers. Users are sharing quotes, some real and others not, that they deem to be a warning sign of possible problematic behaviors or beliefs, and then following those quotes with several flag emojis.
At the beach, a red flag means strong currents that can cause significant injury or death. Or in social settings, a red flag means interaction with the person or object in question should end immediately.
But once again, Twitter and other social media platforms users have turned a common expression into a meme. They can punctuate a tweet with the symbol, or even use a whole row of them to show something is troublesome.
For the most part, these memes are being shared with humor on social media, like when a user points out that liking pineapple on pizza is a red flag for them.
The trend has also spread to companies’ brand accounts from sports teams to restaurants. Like Dr. Pepper pointing out that places that don’t have their popular soda are a “red flag” for them. Or like the PGA Tour flagging, “Golf is not a real sport.”