I associate the term with the right’s attempt to control the narrative. The current usage was created by a conservative to combat any liberal argument that involved morality. Because they couldn’t actually argue that, say, bigotry is okay, they had to start arguing that the left is only saying they’re against bigotry to score points.
By coining a term that does describe at least some people legitimately, they hoped to spread the idea. It’s the same with SJW, politically correct, and other terms. There exist people who are just trying to score points, who act like they care about social justice online but never have it affect their real life, or who actually believe bigoted things but think it’s wrong to say them out loud.
And, yes, I do think it was intentional. They didn’t need a term, otherwise. I’ve been able to argue that people are being disingenuous without using it. I just have to actually show my work. You can’t just say “that’s disingenuous” without explaining why. But that happens all the time when saying someone is “virtue signaling.”
I only support using the word ironically against those who use it (as they are most often projecting), or describing the original definition and why it’s not a bad thing. Or combining the two–because, ironically, using the newly coined “virtue signaling” is actually an example of the older term.