Social media / July 17, 2019

In celebration of everything emoji

Nimmi Kanji

Nimmi Kanji

Director - TELUS Wise


July 17 is #WorldEmojiDay. If you’re like me, you may be surprised to know #WorldEmojiDay exists and may also be wondering, why July 17? Because it’s the very date displayed on the calendar emoji in iOS 📅😉.

To celebrate these characters and icons that have fundamentally changed the way that we communicate, we decided to round up some emoji stats and facts. –

The origins of emoji

Wired did an amazing article about the history of emoji. First created in the early 1990’s by Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita, there were 176 emojis in the original collection, which is now featured at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

Approximately a decade later, the real seeds of a new, digital-based language were planted. Engineers from Google and Apple submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit group that maintains text standards across computers. In 2010, the Consortium adopted 625 new emoji characters into the Unicode Standard.

Apple jumped on the opportunity, introducing the official emoji keyboard to iOS in 2011. Two years later, Android followed suit.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Emoji as a language continues to evolve, with the introduction of diversity (food, flags, families, skin tones, genders and activities/occupations) and inclusivity (gender-neutral and people living with disabilities).

Emoji stats

How many emojis did you send today? According the official site for World Emoji Day:

  • More than 900 million emojis are sent every day without text on Facebook Messenger

  • More than 700 million emojis are used in Facebook posts every day

  • 86% of emoji users on Twitter are 24 or younger

  • The top 5 emojis on iOS are: 😂

    • ❤️
    • 😭
    • 😍
    • and 😘
  • In 2018, 157 new emojis were released, bringing the total to 2,823

  • 230 new emojis are expected for release in 2019, including a flamingo, otter, guide dog, waffle, Hindu temple, sari, sloth and mate

  • With the 2019 release, there will be 3,019 emojis in the Unicode Standard

Emojis even have their own online encyclopedia, which explains what each emoji looks like, its possible meaning, its usage, how it appears visually across platforms and when it was approved as part of the Unicode Standard.

Emoji Top 10

Emojis are evolving all of the time – how we use them, how often we use them, our favorites and what they mean (besides what they obviously mean). Brandwatch, the world’s leading social intelligence company, conducted an in-depth study on the most popular emojis. By combing through tweets posted in 2018, the company came up with the most popular. Here is the top 10 according to the research (and follow the link above for the top 100).

  1. Face with tears of joy 😂
  2. Loudly crying face 😭
  3. Smiling face with heart eyes 😍
  4. Red heart 💓
  5. Backhand index pointing right 👉
  6. Purple heart 💜
  7. Two hearts 💕
  8. Smiling face with smiling eyes 😊
  9. Thinking face 🤔
  10. Folded hands 🙏

Understanding emojis

We all use emojis, but the younger generation has really seized this “language,” giving subtext and new meaning to the images and icons. McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security company, explored teen texting slang and emojis. It’s a fascinating deep dive into deciphering this youth code.

We have a family audience at TELUS Wise, so needless to say, we can’t explore all of the nuances of emojis’ hidden meanings. But it is important to know that the once harmless peach, eggplant, frog and broccoli, to name a few, convey very different messages now. A little emoji education can go a long way to making sure that you (or your kids) are communicating safely and respectfully when using emojis.

Bestlife also explored “second meanings” of popular emojis. There were definitely some surprises here:

  • Goat: Greatest of all Time – a pretty popular one, especially in Canada in early June, as we watched Kawhi and the Raptors win the championship!
  • Snake: thank Taylor Swift for this emoji’s popularity during her Kardashian/Kanye drama
  • Bumblebee: synonymous with Beyonce, Queen Bey herself and her Beyhive
  • Octopus: virtual hugs all around from this multi-tentacled creature
  • Pizza slice (or cheese wedge): I love you

Emoji’s impact

While emojis allow us to visually inject emotion into our text communication, it’s not always all hearts and smiley faces. The widespread use of emojis as mainstream, accepted communication can also cause confusion and is even affecting judges’ rulings and legal precedents.

The CBC points to a case of unpaid rent, where a judge ruled that the prospective tenant’s use of emojis conveyed intent to take possession of an apartment, even though no contracts were ever signed. The legal community is just scratching the surface of how this new language and its often-ambiguous interpretation will change evidence, rulings and precedents.

The bottom line? Think before you emoji. Familiarize yourself with the hidden meanings of seemingly innocent images and icons. And stay curious. If you have kids, talk to them about their use of emojis and the ways they use them to convey a message. For educators, TELUS Wise offers some classroom activities that use emojis, including a printable emoji maze, classroom guide and even emoji art activity to help students learn how emojis might impact their digital footprint.

Despite emojis being fairly commonplace, we are only just at the beginning of this language revolution. Emojis will continue to evolve and shape how we convey emotion and communicate in our digital world.

Digital etiquette
Online reputation
Share this article with your friends:

There is more to explore

Social media

A Quick Guide to TikTok

Remember a time when teens just wanted to be YouTube stars (which was probably only last year)? Now it’s all about making 60-second videos on TikTok.

Read article

Social media

Lesson plan: Making fact-checking a habit

Download the lesson plan

Social media

Are you in control of your online reputation? Start the school year on a clean slate

So, what is an online reputation? Your online reputation is an extension of your own personal brand - it’s a direct reflection of the content you post, and the…

Read article