Emoji of red flags are all over Twitter. Here's why

Twitter users have a lot of warnings.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
2 min read

Red flags are everywhere.

Getty Images

If you've noticed images of red flags filling up your Twitter feed, you're not alone. The platform is bursting with warnings about anything you can think of. It's a new viral trend that has tweeters using the red flag emoji to signal opinions and behaviors that raise, well, red flags. Not a baseball fan? Red flag. Promise you'll pay someone back later? Red flag. Top your pizza with pineapple? Red flag.

The platform says it's seen a 455% increase over the last week in tweets using the emoji in the US. Tuesday saw 1.5 million red-flag-emoji tweets globally.

From people cautioning about worrisome behavior from a prospective date, to brands trying to capitalize on the trend, here's the rundown on the rows of red flags filling up your timeline.

What do all the red flags mean?

Outside Twitter, the phrase red flag is 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.

Thanks to the red flag emoji, Twitter users can just punctuate a tweet with the symbol, or even use a whole row of them to show something is troublesome. 

How did the red flag trend start?

According to the Mary Sue, the trend started among Black Twitter users this week who were talking about red flags in dating. The tweets covered things like someone who's always online but is slow to text back; someone saying they're still friends with their ex, or "going all day without talking to me." A tweet calling out the latter is one of the top retweeted tweets of this trend, raking in more than 28,000 retweets so far. 

Though not always, many of the tweets are formatted as quotes followed by the flags.

What are people warning each other about?

In short, everything. People are tweeting opinions on sports, food, movies, music, politics and more that they find to be problematic. Not all the tweets are serious; many of them are jokes.

One Twitter user tweeted: "My favorite movie is Fight Club."

Another tweeted: "My team is the Dallas Cowboys."

Celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi tweeted that a red flag for her would be someone saying, "I don't like Indian food."

From sports teams to restaurants, brands are also going all in on the trend, like the PGA Tour flagging, "Golf is not a real sport."