Emoji could be getting some racial diversity


Soon you may be able to send your friends emoji that look a little more like you.

The Unicode Consortium, which sets the international standards for characters such as emoji, proposed an update on Monday that would introduce diversity to the emoticons.

“People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone,” the proposal said.


Emoji are popular among users, who include them in text messages and posts on Instagram and Twitter. Unicode introduced 250 new emoji in June, but the release was criticized for doing little to change the small subset of diverse characters.

Though emoji characters are meant to be generic, the report noted, the images are often shown with a lighter skin tone, leaving out a swath of other human appearances. Companies such as Apple, which earlier this year said it was working to add more characters, are unable to make these changes to emoji diversity on their own.

“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,” Katie Cotton, Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications, told MTV in March.

Unicode 8.0, scheduled for mid-2015, would add five modifiers providing for a range of skin tones for human emoji, the organization said. Those characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale -- a recognized standard for dermatology.

But, the organization admitted, there are many other types of diversity -- hair styles, facial hair and body types, for example -- that it can’t code.

“It is beyond the scope of Unicode to provide an encoding-based mechanism for representing every aspect of human appearance diversity that emoji users might want to indicate,” the report said.

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