Technically white: Emoji skin-tone modifiers as American technoculture

Miriam E. Sweeney, Kelsea Whaley

Abstract


The inclusion of skin-tone modifiers into the standard emoji set marked a shift from the default white racialization of emoji towards explicit attempts to expand racial representation in the human emoji characters. This study explores the racial logics of emoji as culturally-situated artifacts that rely on linked understandings of race and technology. We conduct an interface analysis of emoji skin-tone modifiers, coupled with user discourse analysis, to explore the design and user interpretations of skin-tone modifiers. Our findings suggest that though the skin-tone modifiers were introduced as an intervention into the lack of racial representation in emoji, they continue to technically center whiteness in the emoji set as an extension of American technoculture.


Keywords


emoji; technoculture; race; whiteness; critical technocultural discourse analysis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v24i7.10060



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