The Stream

How are emoji chosen? And are they diverse enough?

With more than 6 billion sent every day, the emoji language has become hard to avoid.

Check the last few messages you sent. Chances are you switched between your language of choice and emojis to convey feelings, ask questions or share your reaction at least once, or maybe more. Though some may think them trivial, emoji have become a staple of online conversation all over the world. There are an estimated 6 billion sent daily by more than 3 billion internet users.

Originally invented in Japan in the late 1990s, their initial purpose was to represent a lot of information with just one symbol. Today, more than 2,600 emoji are governed by the Unicode Consortium, made up of a big group of tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. New emojis are considered after receiving petitions and are decided based on inclusiveness. Coming soon with your next software update – a woman in a hijab, a curly haired emoji and a red headed emoji.

But when they are mostly decided by people who work in Silicon Valley, are they inclusive enough? And whose worldview, culture and values do they represent? On Tuesday we’ll take a look at this evolving language.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Jeremy Burge @jeremyburge
Founder, Emojipedia

Gretchen McCulloch @GretchenAMcC
Internet linguist

Kate Miltner @katemiltner
PhD student, USC Annenberg School

Hamdan Azhar @HamdanAzhar
Founder, Prismoji

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.