Emoji Documentary Reveals Bureaucracy and a Lack of Transparency in Character Creation

Highlighting the importance of representation in how we communicate

Rayouf Alhumedhi, who was 15 years old when she created the hijab emoji, used to use multiple emojis to show there wasn't one that represented her. Picture Character

Many of us haven’t thought much about where the word “emoji” comes from. (It’s Japanese for “picture character.”) Far fewer have given consideration to how emojis land in our smartphones in the first place—sometimes becoming more meaningful than a word or more powerful than punctuation. And, yet, what happens when there isn’t one to represent our actions, our emotions or even ourselves?

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@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.