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Twitter replaces its gun emoji with a water gun

Twitter replaces its gun emoji with a water gun
From TechCrunch - April 11, 2018

Twitterhas now followed Apples lead in changing its pistol emojito a harmless, bright green water gun. And in doing so, the company that has struggled to handle the abuse, hate speech and harassment taking place across its platform, has removed one of the means for online abusers to troll their victims.

The change is one of several rolling out now in Twitters emoji update, Twemoji 2.6, which impacts Twitter users on the web, mobile web and on Tweetdeck.

Below: Apples water gun

Below: Twitters water gun

The decision to replace an emoji of a weapon to a childs toy was seen as a political statementwhen Apple in 2016 rolled out its own water gun emojiin iOS 10.The company had also argued against the addition of a rifle emoji, ultimately leading to the Unicodes decision to remove the gun from its list of new emoji candidates that same year.

With these moves, Apple was effectively telling people that a gun didnt have a place in the pictorial language people commonly use when messaging on mobile devices.

These sorts of changes matter because of emojis ability to influence culture and its function as a globally understood form of communication. Thats why so much attention is given to those emoji updates that go beyond the cosmeticlike updates that offer better representations of human skin tones, show different types of family groupings or relationships or give various professionslike a police officer or a scientistboth male and female versions, for example.

In the case of the water pistol, Apple set a certain standard that others in the industry have since followed.

Samsung also later replaced its gun with a water gun, as did WhatsApp. Google, meanwhile, didnt follow Apples lead, saying thatit believed in cross-platform communication. Many others left their realistic gun emojis alone, too, including Microsoft.

The main problem with the different appearances of the pistol emoji has been the potential for confusion when one platform displays this as an innocuous toy, and another shows the same emoji as a weapon. This was particularly an issue in 2016 when Apple changed the pistol emoji out of step with every single other vendor at the time, notesJeremy Burge, Emojipedias founder and vice chair on the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee.Now were seeing multiple vendors all changing to a water pistol image all in a similar timeframe with Samsung and Twitter both changing their design this year, he says.

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