Facebook Messenger's New Emojis Can Now Reflect Gender and Skin Tone Differences
Facebook takes a proactive stand in equality, updating Facebook Messenger's emojis to better reflect gender and racial diversity. Users now have more custom emojis to represent skin tone, gender, careers, and hobbies.
The update will be consistent across all platforms and devices. iOS and Android users have the same emoji templates to use. The tweak was met a, generally positive, reception.
A Massive User Base of Varied Demographics
Digitaltrends reports there are more than 900 million users of the Facebook Messenger app, which covers all possible demographics. Previous emojis available in the app were not representative of the diversity of users.
Facebook Messenger's product manager Tony Leach said the app was updated "to better represent the real world." The update was applied with the thought that emojis have become a very important medium for communicating emotions between users.
Users can set the skin color of emojis as a default. The concept was already implemented in Android and iOS using fixed templates, the feature is now applicable to a wider variety of emojis.
Facebook also plans to expand emoji options to represent more gender roles. For instance, careers like police officers, software engineers, plumbers, and farmers will have female emoji representation. The update is a response to Google's compliance to the Unicode Consortium, which requests for equal representation of the genders in the emoji library.
Emojis as a Language
Jonas Downey of Emojisaurus.com confirmed the role of emojis in online communication: "Using emojis to communicate has become its own language really, so of course people want to extend that language and have more dialect. With messaging, the more fun stuff in it, the more likely that people will keep using it."
It is expected the update will further boost the app's appeal, with all the demographics of users represented. Downey said it's important the Unicode standard is a close representation of reality, lauding the update as a step in the right direction.
USA Today reports about nine out of ten messages on the app include emojis. Women use emojis more frequently than men. The emoji trend started in Japan in the mid-1990s, using punctuation as alternative to words in conveying text messages.
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