Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Menlo Park, CA, United States (4E) – Google, Facebook and Microsoft have modified their realistic handgun emojis into less lethal looking variants in a nod to the growing movement against guns and gun violence in the USA.
Google’s handgun emoji has been transformed into a toy water pistol while Microsoft changed its handgun emoji into one looking like a toy raygun, or is it a colorful Super Soaker? Facebook announced plans to follow suit but hasn’t said when its revamped emoji will make it to its social media platform. A Facebook spokesperson did confirmed the company’s intention to do on Emojipedia, an emoji reference website that documents changes to emojis and their meanings.
Apple was way ahead of the pack in changing the handgun emoji into a visually non-lethal version. It did so in August 2016 when it changed its pistol emoji from a realistic-looking gun in iOS 9.3 to a bright green toy water gun in the iOS 10 beta. Twitter, Samsung, and WhatsApp have since followed suit.
Google began broadcasting the new toy water pistol emoji on Android last week. Also last week, Microsoft confirmed it’s transforming its gun emoji into a water pistol. In a tweet revealing the new emoji, Microsoft said it had evolved the design “to reflect our values and the feedback we’ve received.”
The changes are a response to growing concerns around gun violence in the USA. Microsoft is the last of the major tech firms to fall in line with a movement that now includes Apple, WhatsApp, Samsung, Twitter, Google and Facebook. It has not indicated when the emoji will change over in Windows 10.
“Our intent with every glyph is to align with the global Unicode standard, and the previous design did not map to industry designs or our customers’ expectations of the emoji definition,” said Microsoft.
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