SHOT THROUGH THE HEART and Apple's to blame; rifle emoji, Unicode members think you're lame.
That's according to an article on list loving site BuzzFeed, which reports the proposed rifle emoji has been blocked by members of emoji-selector organisation, the Unicode Consortium. Apple was apparently the instigator of the move to pluck the rifle emoji from the list of new word-replacing cartoon images.
Apple's got some sway when it comes to emojis given it's one of the largest members of the Consortium, so when it takes exceptions to something, the poo emoji hits the fan, particularly as the polarising emoji had been passed into the encoding process for Unicode 9, due for release later this month.
The rifle appeared to be part of a swathe of Olympics-themed emojis celebrating the Rio Olympic Games, with the idea it would represent marksmanship and spot shooting. But according to the BBC, a British gun control group didn’t like the idea of having it in Unicode 9, noting "it would be familiarising and popularising the image of a weapon which is not a good idea".
Apple, along with members Unicode, has remained tight-lipped on why they came to a unanimous decision to block the rifle emoji. We could speculate that the recent spate of shootings that have occurred over the past six months has made tech companies feel a little queasy when looking at including killing implements into the supposed fun world on emojis.
The decision could stem concerns that people can use emojis as a way of threatening others, despite their cartoonish appearance. A man in France was arrested and sentenced to three months in prison this year for sending his ex-girlfriend an emoji of a pistol, specifically a revolver, which was translated as a death threat.
But the decision is still a bit baffling, as alongside the pistol emoji, there are other emojis that could constitute a solid threat; coffins, urns, daggers, and a pickaxe for the more creative amongst you, present a few options to insinuate pain and death to an enemy via the medium of emoji.
Equally, we feel obliged to point out that people in the US can rather quickly and easily get their hands on a real world pistol or rifle, so perhaps Apple could put its considerable influence in tackling the problem of gun violence at its source.
The world of emojis is beginning to get a bit bizarre, as it grows into a form of basic digital language. As Unicode adds more emojis, the more the topic of what does and doesn’t get included becomes a social and political issue rather than technical challenge. µ
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