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Alexis Ohanian and Tinder are petitioning Unicode for interracial couple emoji

Alexis Ohanian and Tinder are petitioning Unicode for interracial couple emoji

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‘[Emoji] are the universal language of the internet and should reflect the modern world where interracial relationships are normal’

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Tinder announced this morning that it’s launching a campaign called #RepresentLove, in collaboration with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Emojination founder Jennifer 8. Lee, with the goal of petitioning Unicode to introduce interracial couple emoji.

The Change.org petition reads “Why is Tinder involved? We believe all love deserves emoji representation.” Ohanian — who previously joined Lee in lobbying for the addition of the hijab emoji — told Wired, “We want our kids to have emojis that look like their parents. [Emoji] are the universal language of the internet and should reflect the modern world where interracial relationships are normal.”

This announcement comes just after Tinder commissioned a survey of its users’ attitudes toward interracial relationships, the results of which were announced alongside the campaign. (Unfortunately, the information Tinder chose to present is vague — e.g., “77 percent of Tinder users are very open-minded about who they date when using sites / apps” — and a little odd: “63 percent of global respondents who dated someone of a different race said it pushed them to try new hobbies / activities.”)

Emoji have been customizable with various skin tone options since 2015, and Microsoft introduced 52,000 new emoji with the release of Windows 10 in 2016, to account for all possible combinations in a family unit. But diverse emoji family units are still hard to make across platforms; Facebook added 125 new family emoji options last summer, none of them interracial. Currently, to make an interracial family in iOS, you have to do a lot of careful customization and sequencing. And since Microsoft never really figured out how to organize 52,000 emoji in the Windows keyboard, that involves a lot of copy-pasting and labor as well.

According to Wired, Tinder’s proposal will be fairly simple: three new skin tones for both versions of the preexisting couple emoji. Accounting for all combinations, that would mean the addition of 21 new emoji. Lee — whose Emojination emoji-diversification project has also collaborated with Chinese web company Baidu to add the red envelope emoji, the Finnish government to add a sauna emoji, and Kickstarter to add a dumpling emoji — will write the official proposal to submit to Unicode.

Still, the website for Tinder’s campaign acknowledges that the process for adding these emoji could take a long time: “It can take up to two years for a proposed emoji to complete the review, approval and standardization process.” That doesn’t even include the time that would take for the emoji to roll out across platforms.

There is some precedent for brands lobbying for Unicode approval via Change.org petition and public campaign. Taco Bell succeeded in getting a taco emoji added to your keyboard — though when it launched its campaign, the taco was already under consideration by the consortium.