Emojis are popular among users, who include them in text messages and posts on Instagram and Twitter. Unicode introduced 250 new emojis in June, but the release was criticized for doing little to change the small subset of diverse characters
“People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone,” the proposal said.
Emoji was developed in 1999. Retaining their Japanese name, they were primarily designated to depict more human-like characters. But with increasing use and pressure of coming up with characters which are less yellow and cartoon-like.
“Of the more than 800 emojis, the only two resembling people of color are a guy who looks vaguely Asian and another in a turban. There’s a white boy, girl, man, woman, elderly man, elderly woman, blonde boy, blonde girl and, we’re pretty sure, Princess Peach. But when it comes to faces outside of yellow smileys, there’s a staggering lack of minority representation,”
the petition stated.
Companies such as Apple, which earlier this year said it was working to add more characters, are unable to make these changes to emoji diversity on their own. “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,” Katie Cotton, Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications said.
Unicode 8.0, scheduled for mid-2015, would add five modifiers providing for a range of skin tones for human emoji, the organization said. Those characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale — a recognized standard for dermatology.
But, the organization admitted, there are many other types of diversity such as hairstyles, facial hair and body types, that it reportedly can’t code.
“It is beyond the scope of Unicode to provide an encoding-based mechanism for representing every aspect of human appearance diversity that emoji users might want to indicate,” the report said.
Five skin tone modifiers, which could be added to each emoji, are now planned for the forthcoming update, which is due to be released in mid-2015. These characters are based on the six shades of the Fitzpatrick skin tone scale , a scheme commonly used to classify a person’s skin tones.