Wingdings Urban Legend Rises Again

By Joe Burns in HTML Goodies to Go dated 01.10.01

Back in 1992, the New York Post ran a basically unfounded story about a supposed anti-Semitic message found within Microsoft's graphical font, Wingdings. The story goes that a person was installing software on a computer running Windows 3.1. I don't know that the fact that the operating system was 3.1 is so important, it just happened to be in every version of the story I found, so I am including it here.
The installation went along just fine until the person doing the work opened the computer's new word processor and typed in the letters "NYC." He (one story had the installer as a "he") proceeded to alter the text font to Wingdings. There was the hidden message.
The screen displayed a skull-and-crossbones, then a Star of David, and then a thumbs-up. You can try it yourself if you'd like. Just make sure the three letters are uppercase.
This was taken to mean, "Death to Jews in New York was a good thing."
I want to know why it specifically has to mean that. The Star of David is actually called "Magen David," or "Shield of David." Why couldn't the images represent that death is shielded and it's a good thing? Why couldn't the images mean that a guy named David makes good pesticides? It could also mean that the Jolly Roger was successful in following the north star.
It is really an embedded message or is that just simply the way someone interpreted it?
To further muddy the waters, another major U.S. city that's known only by letters, DC, produces an upturned and down-turned thumb. Really. Try it. Does that mean voting? Does that mean the city is both good and bad? We could go to town on that one.
Let me throw another one into the mix. Write the word, "JEW" and turn it into Wingdings. Again, follow the capitalization pattern. You get a smiling face, a finger pointing at it, and then a cross. How do you take that?
Try typing in "JESUS" and see what you come up with. That one seems far more contrived then NYC.
What do you think of the symbols that appear when you type in, "ALLAH"?
How about, "GOD"? Can you get anything out of that?
If you're looking for something bad, you'll surely find it.
Now, you may be wondering why I am dredging up a story from ten years ago. The reason is that after the terrorist attack, the story regarding the "NYC" Wingdings concern is beginning to come up again, along with a few other interesting conspiracy theories.
You may want to be aware of these before you begin getting the overly concerned emails that are sure to start flying around very soon.
With the advent of Internet Explorer 4, Microsoft introduced a new graphical font called, "Webdings." To quote Microsoft, "Our team of iconographers traveled the world asking site designers and users which symbols, icons and pictograms they thought would be most appropriate for a font of this kind. From thousands of suggestions we had to pick just two hundred and thirty for inclusion in Webdings."
No one asked me.
OK, that's fine. Why have one set of strange characters, when you can have two, I guess. The problem is that with the knowledge of the Wingdings NYC problems, those who created Webdings seized a moment.
Type "NYC" into WORD and change the font to Webdings if you have it. It shows a human eye, a heart, and a series of skyscrapers.
"Ah Ha!" you say! I love New York!
This is the point at which conspiracy theorists will start proclaiming that if Webdings had a blatantly inserted message, then the original Wingdings font message must also be true.
It's really a leap of logic, but that's what is being thrown around the Web. I have to admit that it was really dumb to intentionally embed a response to the first Wingdings, but I wasn't in charge back then.
You may also want to keep an eye out for this little ditty, "Q33NY." Please note that the letters are uppercase.
That matters.
Take that Q33NY, type it into your word processor and change it to Wingdings. You should see an airplane pointed at two pieces of paper followed by the skull and Star of David. With a little imagination, one can see that as an airplay running into the towers proclaiming the death of Jews.
The problem with this one is that the code, Q33NY, is completely manufactured. It has no relevance to the incident at all except the "NY" stuck on the end. Now, you'll hear that this was a flight number or a tracking number of one of the airliners. It wasn't.
I find it a real concern that at a moment such as this, someone would take the time to look so deeply into such a completely unrelated area such as Wingdings in order to find fault at one level or another.
Why look so deeply when the real problems are so large and so visible right in front of your eyes?
Actually, maybe that is the reason.