Virtue signaling is an attempt to get into the good graces of an individual or group by taking a political stance that attempts to show moral superiority.
It allows someone to cheaply gain social status—and sometimes money—through comments or displays that are easy to make in place of genuine activism or work.
Such politically correct “holier than thou” empty gestures by ordinary individuals are silly but innocuous. By the powerful, though, this can have real impact on pushing agendas. More disheartening is when it happens by politically notable figures, for instance the “I’m not an extremist, unlike this guy a little to my right” routine. What’s quite troubling is how common it is for corporations, celebrities, and the ultra-wealthy to jump on the virtue signalling bandwagon. Many corporations have enthusiastically embraced affirmative action policies, put on gay pride events, ostentatiously celebrate diversity, and so forth—a clear endorsement of these things.