Emoji are graphical images depicting a wide range of facial expressions, symbols and objects which can be used to convey certain emotions or phrases in SMS and instant messaging, similar to their precursor, emoticons.
The original set of Emoji, consisting of 172 ideograms framed in 12×12 pixel squares, were invented by Japanese mobile software engineer Shigetaka Kurita in 1998 and officially released as part of NTT DoCoMo's mobile internet platform i-mode in February 1999. In the following years, i-mode was met with huge success in Japan, reaching 40 million subscribers by 2004 and leading other domestic competitors to launch similar services with their own sets of Emoji-like characters.
Emoji made their international debut in November 2008 with the release of iPhone firmware 2.2. Although they were meant to support Emoji for Softbank iPhone users in Japan, five days later, iPhone news blogger Simon Ng published an English-language guide on how to enable Emoji characters appear on jailbroken iPhones in all countries. In December, Ng released another guide on how to unlock Emoji on a regular iPhone appeared online.
Between late 2008 and early 2009, Numerous Emoji-unlocking apps began appearing in the iTunes Store, prompting Apple to issue a takedown order on Emoji-unlocking apps, presumably on account of licensing issues. However, as of September 2012, there were 13 apps that could unlock Emoji keyboards in the iTunes Store, some for-purchase and others available for free. On September 9th, 2012, Apple released iOS5, integrating a free emoji keyboard into all iPhones.
Despite the international success of Emoji, the term has often been misinterpreted in the English-speaking world as synonymous with text-based emoticons. The earliest semantic distinction was made by Urban Dictionary user le anime nerd on July 5th, 2013, simply referring to them as “tiny pictures you can put on your texts.” In addition to their widespread usage in text messaging, Emoji have become increasingly visible on Facebook, Twitter and other mobile-enabled microblogging services. On July 4th, 2013, EmojiTracker was created to track the growing use of Emoji in real-time on Twitter.
iTunes and other mobile app stores offer a variety of Emoji collections for purchase and download, including theme-specific packages like the Christian-themed “Holy Emojis” and Harry Potter-themed packages.
On June 24, 2014, the iDiversicons app, which calls itself "The First Diverse Emoji" was released to the Apple Store by Cub Cub Investment. The app was released for Android phones through the Google Play store the following day. The app includes over 900 icons which represent diversity through a variety of categories including people of color, same sex couples and women in male-dominated fields. Though the icons can now only be inserted in texts by using copy and paste, creator Katrina Parrott hopes to to make it available through the keyboard in the future. On July 21st, The Daily Dot published an article on the app and Parrott, titled "The one-woman mission to diversify emoji." The following day the app was covered by Jezebel and Bustle.
On December 17, 2014, a proposal was created for the Unicode Consortium that formally defined how emojis could be given varying skin colors. Apple released an update that used the new skin tone options on April 8, 2015. The set also included same-sex families. Many users used the hashtag #BlackEmoji to celebrate on Vine and Twitter. The proposal was formally adopted on November 12, 2015, standardizing the way in which racially diverse emoji are used.
Burger Emoji Debate
On March 15th, 2017, Twitter user @rgov tweeted a photograph of the Samsung-designed emoji and the Facebook-designed cheeseburger emojis. He captioned the image, "Also who melts cheese OVER the lettuce? Samsung and FB. Emoji One puts it on top of the tomato (itself a questionable topping). Unnatural." The post (shown below, left) received more than 40 retweets and 125 likes in one year.
Two days later, a designer at Facebook responded to the tweet with an updated image of the emoji. They captioned the image (shown below, right), "@rgov we sent the emoji chef back into the kitchen and there's a fresh burger rolling out today 👨🍳🍔."
Salad Emoji Update
On June 6th, 2018, Jennifer Daniel, a Google user experience manager for Google emoji tweeted,  "There's big talk about inclusion and diversity at Google so if you need any evidence of Google is making this priority may I direct your attention to the 🥗 emoji-- we've removed the egg in Android P beta 2, making this a more inclusive vegan salad." The post (shown below) received more than 1,100 retweets and 3,500 likes in two days.
Several users responded negatively to the announcement, joking that Google was not being inclusive enough.
Twitter user @TheBookOfNick tweeted (shown below, left), "As a meat eater, this emoji isn’t very inclusive to me." Twitter user @Kuraha_9 tweeted (shown below, right), "Excuse me i don't have legs, could you cut yours off so i can feel included? That's how it works right?"
On June 6th, Twitter user @DJD_Allday tweeted, "Why dont you make a salad for every preference instead of this hateful exclusion of everyone who isnt a vegan? What about tomato allergies? What about those who think bacon bits are paramount? Also isn't excluding eggs misogyny? So not woke. 👎👎" The post (shown below, right) received more than 50 retweets and 960 likes in two days.
Daniel later added an addendum to her original post. She wrote, "Hello carnivores, vegans and everyone in between! Just want to clarify that the goal of salad emoji redesign was to create an image more faithful to unicode's description. 'A bowl of healthy salad, containing lettuce, tomato, and other salad items such as cucumber.' Bon appetite!" The post (shown below) received more than 200 likes.
Gender Inclusive Emoji
On May 8th, 2019, Fast Company reported that Google was preparing to release 53 gender-inclusive emojis for the exclusively for Google and Android platforms. Jennifer Daniel, a designer for Google said, "We’re not calling this the non-binary character, the third gender, or an asexual emoji–and not gender neutral. Gender neutral is what you call pants. But you can create something that feels more inclusive."
Some have expressed concerns that the new emoji would continue to overwhelm what they see an already cluttered emoji platform. The Verge wrote, "The current approach is more inclusive, but it has its problems. It makes the emoji keyboard more difficult to parse, and even then it’s almost impossible to include every possible combination of skin tone and gender in emoji featuring multiple people."
On Sep 19th, 2009, Kickstarter data engineer Fred Benenson launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a translation of Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick into emoji. The project reached their funding goal of $3,500 on October 19th, surpassing it with over $3,600. The books was published in 2010 and is currently available for purchase as a black and white paperback for $40 or as a hardcover book in full color for $200. The completed book has a total of 736 pages, while the text version contains around 500.
Narratives Told Through Emoji
The Tumblr blog Narrativesinemoji, which features the plots of television shows, movies, and even events like the SXSW festival explained through emoji filled texts, uploaded its first screenshot on October 19th, 2011. The Tumblr currently has over entries 40 entries as of January 2014.
Song Lyrics Told Through Emojis
The Tumblr blog emojilyrics, which features the lyrics of pop songs explained through emoji filled texts, uploaded its first screenshot on December 4th, 2011. A similar Tumblr, emojisinging, was created in 2012. A Buzzfeed Community post titled, "23 Famous Movies And Songs Reenacted In Emojis", which collected popular examples, was published on February 5, 2013.
Movie Plots Told Through Emojis
The Tumblr blog emojiplot, which features screenshots of texts that explain the plots of popular movies through emojis, uploaded its first screenshot on December 9th, 2011. The popularity of movie plots told through emojis spiked after Fail Blog posted an emoji summary of the plot of the recent film adaptation of Les Miserables on January 3rd, 2013. On January 11th entertainment website Uproxx published a post titled, "Can You Identify These 8 Movies From Their Emoji Plots?", which collected some of the most popular Emoji explanations.
#EmojiArtHistory is a Twitter hashtag associated with various strings of emoji characters that are supposed to be reinterpretations of famous artworks throughout history.
On January 4th, 2014, Innocence en Danger, a child advocacy group based in France, posted images from a campaign featuring "human emojis." The campaign is meant to illustrate the threat pedophiles pose online. Several American based websites such as Buzzfeed and Bustle  covered the campaign on January 17th.
New York Emoji Art & Design Show
In December 2013, New York City's digital art collective Eyebeam announced an art and design show dedicated to the medium of Emojis, featuring original works in a wide range of mediums from digital prints and sculptures to video and performance art presented by 23 artists. The exhibition will be on display at the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in Chelsea, Manhattan from December 12th to December 14th.
In October 2010, Unicode 6.0 introduced the Peach Emoji (shown below). Over the next few years, the peach emoji became widely used to depict a butt due to their visual similarity as perceived by many users, which led to the monikers “butt emoji” and the “bottom emoji," according to Emojipedia. On March 15th, 2015, Urban Dictionary user queen.of.sass submitted the top definition of the peach emoji, which reads “the emoticon of the peach or for people with immature minds it is the emoticon of the ass.” On Instagram, the hashtag #Peach  has over 243,000 posts (as of November 2nd, 2016), with many of the pictures prominently featuring a butt.
On October 31st, 2016, Apple introduced iOS 10.2, which features version 9.0 of Unicode, meaning a new set of emojis. Among the new emojis, Unicode offers an updated version of the peach emoji that many felt no longer looked like a butt.
The change was met with backlash from users who appreciated the old peach emoji's resemblance to a butt. The following day, many media outlets covered the online backlash to the change, including SelectAll, Buzzfeed, and Slate.
Emoji Chocolate Bar
On May 14th, 2019, The Hershey’s brand announced that they would be changing the original milk chocolate bar design to include an emoji on each piece. The Emoji bars will launch in Summer 2019 and will include 25 of the most popular emojis chosen in a study (shown below). In a statement, Hershey's senior manager Kriston Ohm said, “Our classic Hershey’s bars were made to be shared with others. By adding an emoji design to each pip of chocolate, we hope that parents and kids are inspired to share a chocolate emoji and make a connection with someone new.”