Emoji to Gain Expanded Racial Diversity With Skin Tone Modifier Option in Mid-2015

The Unicode Consortium has released a technical report (via Emojipedia) detailing a new method for handling the representation of multi-ethnic groups in emoji. Previous guidelines have stated that emoji people be "as neutral as possible regarding race, ethnicity, and gender". Unless the emoji calls out specific gender or racial cues, then a "generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette" should be used in its place.

A forthcoming update, Unicode 8.0, plans to change all of that. It proposes to introduce a skin-tone modifier which could be added to certain emoji, allowing users to send any emotion using any skin tone. Plans even reach as far as to allow emoji couples to feature individually different skin tones. Planned for release in the middle of next year, Unicode 8.0's skin tone and racial diversity proposals are only proposed drafts at the current stage.

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Although the wide acceptance of new emoji is rather slow-going (no major platforms yet support Unicode 7.0 emoji released earlier this year), Apple has shown previous interest in updating the diversity in its emoji lineup. Earlier in the year, Apple's then-vice president of worldwide corporate communications, Katie Cotton, spoke to vocalized support in working with the Unicode Consortium and updating its emoji character offerings.

"Tim 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."

The most recent major change to emoji on Apple platforms was for iOS 6, when the company expanded native support beyond Japan and made the feature accessible to all users without the use of a third-party app.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: emoji

Top Rated Comments

TMRaven Avatar
88 months ago
stupid.
Score: 130 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LIVEFRMNYC Avatar
88 months ago
What's next? Transgender smileys
Score: 107 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Boatboy24 Avatar
88 months ago
What a giant waste of time.
Score: 78 Votes (Like | Disagree)
luckydcxx Avatar
88 months ago
This is ridiculous.
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KALLT Avatar
88 months ago
Why not just stick to generic ones? Aren’t smileys meant to convey a certain emotion? When does the skin tone matter? I think this may have the opposite effect, namely abuse instead of actual use. I also think that it takes away a bit of the playful innocence of emojis and turns them into political statements.
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Brian Y Avatar
88 months ago
Seriously? They're bloody emotions.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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