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Facebook Messenger adds diverse emoji

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Facebook Messenger is overhauling its emoji today with new designs and a focus on diversity. Many of the new emoji include support for skin tone selection, just as iOS added last year and Android will add later this year. Facebook also says that Messenger's new emoji do a better job with gender, putting women in more roles and including gender-agnostic options in other cases. Facebook says it's the first platform to include "a female police officer, runner, pedestrian, surfer, and swimmer," among others to come.

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Facebook is also making another key change to the way it handles emoji: no matter what platform you're viewing Messenger on, you'll now see the emoji made by Facebook. Until now, Facebook was inconsistent about which emoji would show up; so some people might see Facebook's emoji, and other people might see the emoji native to whatever phone they're using. Though emoji are supposed to be consistent across platforms, in practice there are slight variations that can lead to some real misunderstandings in meaning. With this change, Facebook is trying to clear up those misunderstandings.

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There's been a vocal push over the past year or so to introduce emoji that better represent our world. The first step has been introducing a skin tone selector for various emoji. The latest push has been to do a better job with gender, starting with putting women in professional roles. It sounds like Facebook is getting a head start on that by introducing its own custom emoji; that may not be great for standardization, but it's definitely a good thing for pushing other companies to act. Hopefully we'll see more platforms follow, and improve upon the existing work, soon.