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Frank Behrens/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
Twitter just made emoji much more inclusive. In a new update, Twitter has changed how it interprets its internal emoji library’s character count, which means Unicode-standardized emoji simply take up two characters across categories.
Emoji is largely governed by the Unicode Consortium, and over 2,000 emoji characters are standardized across devices. That means a blushing face on Facebook can be copied and pasted to Twitter, and that blushing smiley will still appear across both sites. While the Unicode Consortium decides which emoji are implemented across the web, websites and apps each develop their own visual in-house style, so sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can interpret individual emoji however they wish.
However, some emoji combine various Unicode characters together to create one single emoji. For example, a default, yellow emoji simply takes up two characters, while a person of color uses four characters in total, according to a post by Emojipedia. Gendered emoji like a female police officer can take up seven characters, and a female officer of color can take up nine. On the other hand, rainbow flags use seven characters, whereas most countries’ flags just need four.
Before today, Twitter would simply calculate the total characters needed to create an emoji and subtract that from the remaining character count left in a post. Because Twitter limits tweets to just 280 characters per message, this incentivized users to cut down on characters by sticking with default emoji, effectively discriminating against women and people of color. In Twitter’s latest update, the social media platform changed how its in-house Twemoji library is interpreted, turning all 2,685 emoji into two-character emoji.
For example, Twitter users can now post 140 rainbow flags in one tweet.
“While not a deliberate effort to discourage certain emoji types, the net result of the previous character counter meant that people using emojis with skin tones would be left with fewer characters remaining to tweet than those who used the default yellow emojis,” Emojipedia Editor in Chief Jeremy Burge writes. “This is a welcome update that not only removes a layer of confusion for users, it also indirectly makes the platform more equal for those who prefer to use 💁🏽 over 💁.”
That said, the update is simply focused on Twitter’s Twemoji’s 2,685 emoji. Specialized emoji designed outside Unicode’s standardized recommendations won’t be counted under the two-character limit rule.
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H/T The Verge
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.