One of the internet's most important standards groups just got a new member. Today, Facebook joined as a full member of the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit group responsible for formulating standards for character-encoding. Most notably, the Unicode Consortium sets the standards for emoji, allowing the same characters to be standardized across operating systems. Facebook is one of just 11 full members of the consortium, alongside Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Adobe, among others.
The membership costs $18,000 a year, and will give the company voting rights in all of Unicode's technical committees as well as any internal governance votes. "We look forward to their contributions to Unicode projects," the consortium said in a statement, "and are grateful for their financial support of the consortium’s work."
The move is unlikely to have any immediate effect on either Facebook or Unicode's work, but it's a sign of Facebook's growing power in web standards. Membership in the group is severely limited, and simply being allowed to join is a sign of Facebook's increasingly central role in rendering characters on the internet. The mobile keyboard app Swiftkey joined as a non-voting associate member in June, but the full members of the consortium have remained largely stable over the years. The consortium's highest-profile move came last year with the introduction of a standard for varying emoji skin colors, paving the way for the new emoji to be rolled out on subsequent versions of iOS and Android.