FEATURE23 March 2018

Showing your emotions

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When Keith Broni was appointed emoji researcher and interpreter by global agency Today Translations, social media went crazy. But as emoji use increases, there is more than a Twitter storm to this role and pictorial language understanding.

Emoji head_crop

Q: What attracted you to this area of research?

I was struck by the surging popularity of emojis, and became interested in investigating their growth and their influence on how we communicate digitally. Since being introduced to the western world in 2011, their use across digital messaging or social media platforms has skyrocketed. A September 2015 report by Emogi found that 92% of the online population are at least occasional emoji users and, in July 2017, Facebook revealed that five billion emojis are sent across its Messenger platform every day. 

Q: Are emojis truly universal or does culture, age and other demographic context affect how they are used or interpreted?

Emojis have a scale of universality, which varies from icon to icon. For example, Smile ,  Black-heart and Angry are widely understood, across demographics and contexts, to be expressions of happiness, love and anger respectively. However, ...