Self-Representation on Twitter Using Emoji Skin Color Modifiers

Alexander Robertson, Walid Magdy, Sharon Goldwater

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Since 2015, it has been possible to modify certain emoji with a skin tone. The five different skin tones were introduced with the aim of representing more human diversity, but some commentators feared they might be used as a way to negatively represent other users/groups. This paper presents a quantitative analysis of the use of skin tone modifiers on emoji on Twitter, showing that users with darker-skinned profile photos employ them more often than users with
lighter-skinned profile photos, and the vast majority of skin tone usage matches the color of a user’s profile photo—i.e., tones represent the self, rather than the other. In the few cases where users do use opposite-toned emoji, we find no evidence of negative racial sentiment. Thus, the introduction of skin tones seems to have met the goal of better representing human diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM 2018)
Place of PublicationPalo Alto, California, US
PublisherAAAI Press
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018
Event12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media - Stanford, United States
Duration: 25 Jun 201828 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameInternational AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media
ISSN (Electronic)2334-0770


Conference12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media
Abbreviated titleICWSM-18
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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