As of 2021, there are over 3,000 unified emoji characters in existence. Since 2009, the Unicode Consortium has designated a Unicode number (e.g. “U+1F92F”) with an attendant description (“exploding head”) for each emoji. In this way, emojis can be displayed on almost any Unicode-supported terminal device, even if the emojis differ in their graphic design. This universalisation of the characters has contributed to their success.
But the question remains: what is included as a character in the overall emoji catalogue and what is not?
Agreement on the look of new emojis is always also a process of negotiation about the visibility and representation of things: animals, fruit and vegetables, sports, but equally emotions, minority groups or gender identities. How and whether skin colour, age, illness, female/male/diverse, housing, food or sexual acts are represented is also a sociopolitical issue.
How does the selection process actually work and who exactly is the Unicode Consortium?