Emoji use reflects the contexts and identities of their users.
Research shows that emoji use between different populations reflects social, cultural and other contextual specificities unique to each group.
Emojis are created as a response to real world trends and events
New emojis are introduced into Unicode every year. These are decided by the Unicode Consortium, which selects new images based on relevance to a global audience.
Emojis are introduced based on their relevance to global populations. They are therefore entirely context-dependent, and intended to reflect the world we live in, rather than to influence or lead it. For example, in 2015, the Unicode Consortium shifted away from the homogenous 'white-washed' yellow skin tone. The group introduced an additional five 'skin' shades to diversify the range, and be more racially inclusive to users. This was a response to growing movements for action against racism (and other forms of discrimination) within tech.
Emojis may reflect trends in attitudes, but in popularising these they serve a much broader purpose. They popularise and spread these changing cultural attitudes by virtue of being so widely used.
[P1] New emojis are introduced annually [P2] Emoji selection is based on how relevant they are to a global audience [P3] Relevance is based on critical trends and attitudes that have shifted since the previous selection
[Rejecting P2] Emoji selection is based on far more than world events. For example, it is also based on data around use of existing emojis and how people are using them.
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