Twitter has announced a number of changes in its Twemoji 2.5 update. Perhaps, most significantly, following the lead of several companies including Apple, WhatsApp, and Samsung, the pistol will now be replaced with a squirt gun.
In 2016, Apple successfully pushed to have a rifle emoji removed from the standardized collection of icons, a decision that was not surrounded by much contention as the argument was that a pistol emoji already existed. However, shortly after, Apple then made the decision to change the pistol emoji to a bright green water pistol. The move was seen as a political statement in efforts to stop promoting gun violence, and it wound up being a standard that several other companies later adopted.
In an email to TechCrunch, a representative from Twitter said the change was simply made for “consistency” to match how the emoji has changed across other platforms. However, it’s hard to not see it as Twitter’s own minor political statement, given the recent shootings at Parkland and YouTube, and how details for these news events tend to start and also unfold on the platform.
Twitter has also faced incredible backlash for the vitriol many say it allows, including threats of violence and physical harm. Recently, the platform announced it is running a test to make users aware of its rules in order to hopefully encourage better behavior and civil discussion online. While the company says changing the pistol emoji is just for consistency’s sake, the timing also suggests that this is one more step by Twitter to curb methods used by trolls and online aggressors.
Other Twitter emoji that have received a refresh include the kitchen knife, which now looks more like a chef’s tool with a riveted handle, the crystal ball with new, curved holding base, and the alembic, which gets more detail to give it depth. These changes will affect Twitter users on desktop, mobile, and TweetDeck.