Everyone knows what Emoji are, small pictures that are shared in text often they are faces or objects. Emoji work cross platform and are very common on phones and sites like Twitter. In this blog post I will show you a Emoji that exists but is not actually real.
Before proving this weird claim I will need to overview the basics of Emoji.
To explain what this Emoji I will give a very brief history of Emoji’s and how they came into existence. All characters you see online and in texts are basically numbers, these numbers then are used to show a glyph from a font downloaded on the viewing device. The lines or images that represent the font are not sent just character numbers. In Japan some mobile phone carriers decided to make some of these unused character numbers translate to little images, these images became what we now know of as Emoji.
The fact that Emoji’s originated in Japan does influence the Emoji character set we have today, many Emoji’s don’t make much sense to the western world. For example the love hotel Emoji 🏩 a concept that is uncommon in the west.
Before the Unicode Consortium existed communication between computers in different countries was very difficult as they all had their own standards for how character numbers linked to characters. The Unicode consortium aimed to allow international communication by having one big unified and agreed upon representation from character numbers to characters by making a character encoding scheme that included all characters from all languages.
One problem arose when doing this, the Emoji used in Japan are not characters from the language however were widely used in Japan. To allow for international communication with Japan the Unicode Consortium were forced to include Emoji, that is why we have Emoji today.
The Emoji in question is the Shibuya Emoji, the Emoji representation in Twitter is shown below, if your device supports this Emoji then it’s representation will be shown here if not then it will be blank or be a box. Emoji will display on Apple iOS 5, Twitter and Chrome OS. It probably displays on more devices however I don’t know how to easily test, I know it does not display on native Windows, native Android and modern iOS.
Shibuya was included in SoftBank one of the original Emoji sets in Japan (they had multiple ones for different phone carriers) but was not officially included in Unicode. As it was not included in Unicode it is not a real Emoji, as I mentioned a character number should therefore not exist however one does hex E50A or dec 58634 is used for this character. Technically it is a reserved character number but it was used in old versions of iOS and continues to be used on Twitter. So although it is not a real Emoji as it is not in Unicode it does exist as it can be used on some platforms.
So this Emoji acts a bit weird, first off.
A slightly weird thing I noticed was on the same version of Windows and using the same version of Telegram Desktop I can see the Emoji on one but not on the other, there must be other factors too but I can’t easily find any.
Most search engines don’t allow you to search for it, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Yandex and many other search engines just fail for the Emoji, this makes sense as it is not a real character. DuckDuckGo however has a weird behaviour that it displays an answer at the top as it usually does for Emoji’s but will not display any results (Search result here). Google does allow you to search for it and as expected other than a few sites that list Emoji all the other uses seem to be on Japanese sites.
The weirdest behaviour of this Emoji is when you search for it on Twitter, Twitter officially supports this Emoji and it is used in many tweets for example one I made here. However when you search for the Emoji Twitter fails and returns no results. Twitter is the place where this Emoji should return something but it simply fails to do so, in the search result it shows the Emoji too.
This Emoji used to exist on Japanese phones, when Unicode was created it included the Emoji’s from Japanese phones. This Emoji was excluded but does exist in some form and is supported by Twitter. It is not a real Emoji but it does exist as an Emoji, and finally the Emoji has weird behaviour even on Twitter.
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