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Apple Seeks Greater Emoji Racial Diversity

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Apple's emoji offer several white-looking icons, but only two that are specifically Asian

Apple says it wants to broaden the ethnic diversity of the emoji used in text-messaging apps.

Credit: Apple

Apple says it wants to boost the ethnic diversity of the emoji used in text-messaging apps, which currently include dozens of faces that appear to be Caucasian while having no black symbols and only two Asian-like symbols.

A basic emoji list has been devised and maintained by the nonprofit Unicode Consortium since 2010, to ensure that different devices and mobile carriers can share a basic series. "Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms," says Apple's Katie Cotton. "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."

The study of emoji usage is a key element of Oxford University research fellow Bernie Hogan's work into how people represent themselves online. "If they restrict the sort of people who are used in the images it restricts users' expressive power--people won't feel that the emoji speak for them," he cautions.

Although Hogan says adding all possible icons in a usable format is an unattainable goal for any one organization or consortium, he notes "in terms of racial diversity, it's very fair to think the range should be extended."

From BBC News
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