Emoji skin tones used positively on Twitter study finds

A new study shows that emoji skin tone options have been used positively on Twitter since their introduction in 2015
A new study by Edinburgh University shows that emoji skin tone options are being used in a positive manner on social media website Twitter.

The study analysed billions of Tweets since the launch of the emoji skin tone option and found that most users chose a tone option that matched their own skin colour.

Tweets from users that did opt for a tone different to their own skin colour were found to be usually positive in nature, unfounding fears that they would be primarily used for racial discrimination.

The study found that almost half of modified emoji skin tones opted for a lighter colour - while the darker skin tones were some of the least popular, even in continents like Africa. The study did however comment on the lack of stable internet access within these developing regions.

Dr Walid Magdy who led the study commented: “The introduction of skin tone choices for emojis has been a success in representing diversity and their extensive use shows that they meet a real demand from users.”

Emoji skin options were introduced as part of Unicode 8.0 in 2015 and are modelled on the Fitzpatrick Scale; a numerical classification system for human skin colour.  

The emojis were created to aid self representation; Unicode released a new range of emojis this year with varying hair styles and hair colours to further give users self expression options. These new styles were found in the latest emoji release: version 11.

Most recently, Apple Inc have released a proposal for a range of accessibility emojis - giving disabled users a way to express themselves in emoji form.

Alexander Robertson, another researcher in the Edinburgh University study commented: “This result should encourage the addition of more emoji options for self-representation – adding to those that have been recently made available, such as red hair.”
Aaron Braund 25 Jun 2018

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