Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Emojis and the Law - the (ㆆ‿ㆆ) and the ( ˘︹˘ )

While I am no stranger to emojis, researching this blog post opened my eyes to their prevalence, as well as their potential gavel implications.
What is an emoji? Emoji is a Japanese word meaning picture (e) + letter (moji). Just how prevalent is the use of emojis? About 500 emojis are sent out to the the twittersphere every second! For a realtime view of emoji usage on twitter go to emojitracker. Watch with delight as emoji are rapidly highlighted and their use totals continue to soar. Even the seemingly innocent emoji can have legal implications. Recently, during the Silk Road Trial, featuring the Dread Pirate Roberts, Judge Forrest instructed the jury to pay attention to an emoji that a prosecutor withheld when reading text from an internet post. Technology resource Wired highlighted several other cases in which emojis were relevant. For example, a New Yorker was charged for using emoji to make threats against police. In another case, a Pennsylvania man argued that threats made on Facebook towards his ex-wife should not be taken seriously because they concluded with an emoji smiley face sticking its tongue out. Even the Senate Floor is getting in on the action; Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, recently introduced a shruggie when discussing health care reform. If you want to brush up on your emoji knowledge, you can skim an emoji dictionary or the emojisaurus. Also, you can visit the emoji governing body, the Unicode Consortium. Will you ever need to know about emojis when conducting legal research? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

P.S. Emojis and emoticons are fun to see, but they may present obstacles for those using screen readers. In addition to the emoji in the first paragraph of this post, the title has a smiling face and a frowning face, and there is a shruggie at the end of the post.

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