Everyone and Their Mother, and Apple, Want Emojis to Be More Diverse

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 26 2014 5:18 PM

Everyone and Their Mother, and Apple, Want Emojis to Be More Diverse

emojisdone
Well, they've certainly cornered the "white people gesturing" emoji category.

Screencaps of the Emoji keyboard in iOS.

Across mobile, and especially in iOS, people use emojis to express deep and complicated emotions. But the lack of diversity in the human-related emojis makes it hard to accurately represent life through these pictograms.

For the most part (see above), they either depict white people/disembodied white hands, or the traditional Simpsons-yellow, which is meant to be more neutral. The abstract colors are all right, but don't really cut it when there's such a critical mass of emojis depicting white people.

Advertisement

In a statement to MTV Act, an Apple spokesperson admitted that the company agrees and wants to change things.

Tim [Cook, Apple CEO] forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. 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.

Without a hard timeframe, it's hard to tell how serious Apple is, or how much power the company can wield over the Unicode consortium (which develops international software standards). An FAQ about emoji on the consortium website explains, “The Unicode Consortium does not design emoji … We do not make or sell fonts, images, or icons … Adding characters to an encoding standard involves a long, formal process.” The site includes detailed instructions for submitting “character encoding proposals.”

But the campaign for more diverse emojis has been raging for almost two years now, and includes proponents like Miley Cyrus. It's time to push one of these proposals through and give the people what they want! And if you don't give a crap about emojis, you can just support the issue on principle.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?