Facebook has rolled out 125 new family emoji, expanding the default yellow skin tone to include light, medium, and darker tones, and more family combinations. Though the rollout enables users to have more options, all of the family members that comprise each emoji still share the same skin tone. That means there’s no representation of interracial families.
Last year, Microsoft added 52,000 family emoji to its Windows 10 update with different combinations that included interracial families and single parent families, the first time an operating system had ever done so. Though well intentioned, Facebook’s step in being inclusive falls into the trap of not accounting for all possibilities.
As noted by TechCrunch, multi-tone family emoji aren’t easily encoded. Plus, the particular code isn’t well supported. If you sent Microsoft’s complex family emoji of say, an Asian male, a white woman, and their baby to another platform, the emoji would render as separate icons.
There’s clearly been diverse family combinations since forever. But the reason these complex family emoji haven’t surfaced earlier is because the standards governing skin tones needed to be developed. It’s now up to the individual platforms and social networking sites to implement the standards agreed to.
The new emoji are available now worldwide, but only through the Facebook website and mobile site. Facebook Messenger has its own set of emoji so will not have the new family options. To access the function, just click on the smiley icon in the corner of the status bar. Select the family icon you want and long press on it to bring up the different skin tones.