The ubiquitous little icons were developed in Japan in the late '90s for mobile phones and were originally meant to be race-neutral but out of the 100s of picture characters to choose from there seems to be one obvious omission – ethnic diversity.
As it stands emojis – the phone pictographs referred to as emoticons used to express feelings – have been severely lacking, not only in the drawings depicting actual people but all of the hand gestures appear to be of Caucasian appearance only.
After having enough hot poo emojis posted their way Unicode Consortium, the company which regulates the characters, has proposed an update of the app which could be available as early as next year.
On its website Unicode provided some information about the proposed overhaul:
"People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone. The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic, yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange colour or a silhouette."
It is understood that Unicode Version 8.0 is adding 5 symbol modifier characters, ranging from pink and brown to black to provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji characters. These characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale (a recognized standard for dermatology) but Unicode says exact shades may vary between implementations.
Earlier this year public outcry directed at Apple forced Katie Cotton, Apple's vice president of worldwide corporate communications, chime in on the issue.
Ms Cotton told MTV in March that the company is working on adding variety to the platform.
"Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard," she said.
The update will mark momentous progress on the current racial stereotypes exhibited in the emoji’s original language.
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