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Weibo reacts to Apple’s greater emoji diversity

The news that Apple will include many more emojis in its latest beta version of iOS 8.3 has triggered a wave of reaction on Sina Weibo.

According to an article in Forbes on February 24, Apple will add 300 more emojis to the keyboard in iOS8.3, with some tiny cartoons available in six new skin tones, as well as more relationship emojis based on different sexual preferences.

Screenshot of Forbes

Since emoji (which originated in Japan in 90s and is used for expressing emotions on smartphones, tablets and PCs) is a part of the iOS system, Apple has been criticized for displaying nationalism and racial discrimination in its current emoji selection by some of the Apple users from different parts of the world. “Do”, a non-government organization, even launched an online petition called “Diversify My Emoji”, asking Apple to “diversify their next set of emoji”.

Members of Diversify My Emoji doing a “no-good gesture” pose which was sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Screenshot of Do

Apple is now making changes “under the pressure from the public”, said one Weibo user. Once you point your figure or cursor onto one of the icons, six skin tones of the icon will show up.

Screenshot of Weibo

However, the yellow skin icons have angered some Apple users, especially Asian users, who claim that the yellow tone is offensive to Asians, according to Mac Daily News. While many went on  Twitter to voice their concern, here in China, where both Facebook and Twitter are blocked, netizens raised their voice on Sina Weibo, Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
The yellow color used in the new emoji set has been compared to that of excrement by some users and one of them said, “We are really not that yellow!”

“It’s too yellow! And it is kind of discrimination, isn’t it?”

“Why not just paint all of us Asian people as the Simpsons?” another said.

While most users showed their anger, someone tried to look at the bright side of things.

“We are not that yellow. But it’s OK, because other skin colors are weird too.”

Meanwhile, family icons have also been diversified. Besides the current only one family icon which consists of a man, woman and boy, 14 more family icons including those of same-sex relationship families with two mothers and two fathers will be added.

Screenshot of Weibo

However, the absence of pets from family icons drew the ire of pet lovers.

“Families which keep a pet should not be ignored. Family icons with pets should be added, such as a man, woman, boy and dog; a man, woman, girl and dog; a man, woman, boy and cat, and so on”, suggested one user.

Another user, likely to be a dog lover, said, “There should be emojis of Samoyed, Alaska and Husky.”

The move to develop a set of globally diverse emojis has been seen by some media as an effort to avoid racial discrimination, as an Apple spokesperson told ABC News that Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all users.

However, just as one Weibo user said, you can never satisfy everyone.

As 32 more national flags will be added to the new emoji set which originally had 10 (China, Japan, South Korea, US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Russia), some Weibo users advocated for the other over 100 countries which are left out.

“Although they are small countries, billions of people are living there. What if all of them stand up and protest?” one user asked.

Taoco Bell, a Mexican restaurant, was also involved in the debate. It believed that its cuisine emoji has been unfairly left out in iPhone keyboard and launched an online petition in January, asking “why do pizza and hamburger lovers get an emoji but taco lovers don’t?” This created another ground of criticism for Weibo users.

One of them said, “How about the fruit lovers and vegetable lovers? All of them deserve an emoji, don’t they?”

“Where are my dumplings (or jiaozi), steamed staffed buns (or baozi), and glutinous rice balls (or tangyuan)?”

“I will suffer without my pancakes (or jianbing)!”

But some were also sympathetic to Apple amidst the overwhelming voices of complaint and anger.

“Apple’s nightmare will last longer, if they take the entire Chinese cuisine into consideration.”

“Don’t spoil them! Just cancel all the emoji!”

“Jobs’ theory is better: if you like it, you buy it; if not, just go away!”

One user even said, “For the first time, I feel sorry for Apple.”

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