Virtue Signaling

What is virtue signaling?

Demonstrating moral superiority

Virtue signaling is when a person or company says or does something to convey moral superiority on a particular issue. It is primarily used negatively to criticize disingenuous politicians, social media influencers, and companies expressing fake outrage or concern.

While some sources date the term back to the mid-2000s, it did not gain prominence until the mid-2010s. As social issues, such as racism, climate change, and LGBTQ prejudice, gained more exposure, people began taking advantage of the situations to enhance their own image.

The term is commonly used online to call people out, especially on social sites like Twitter and Facebook. It is also often used in the political realm to accuse politicians of only caring about something because it will give them more media exposure or votes, or to just be politically correct (PC) and appear woke.

Conservatives often accuse liberals of virtue signaling in order to appeal to certain demographics. Politicians and athletes are often the targets of these criticisms. Unfortunately, as the term has gained popularity, people who legitimately care about social issues and speak out have been unfairly accused of virtue signaling.

Several other terms similar to "virtue signaling" include "Humblebrag," "Slacktivism," and "Performative activism." The term may also appear as "virtue signalling."


It's hard for me to believe the companies coming out against racism when their BIPOC employees complain about toxic working conditions
Yeah, it all seems to be just virtue signaling
Tweet applauding a company for not virtue signaling
Tweet applauding a company for not virtue signaling

Related Slang


Updated September 25, 2020

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