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Facebook To Convert Five Male Emojis Into Female Characters

Pedestrian, police officer, jogger, swimmer, and surfer emojis are all female in Facebook Messenger's new emoji set. It's also adding the ability to set skin tones.

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Facebook is releasing a new set of emoji glyphs for Messenger tomorrow that's designed to be more representative of women. Five emojis that have been traditionally displayed as men — the pedestrian, police officer, jogger, swimmer, and surfer — will all be female characters in the new set.

The company is also allowing users to select an emoji skin tone, and making sure it renders the same way across various smartphone platforms.

Although the new emojis will still show up as male on your keyboard, when you select one, it will appear as female in the Messenger message itself. The app will show you a preview of how the emojis will look in the compose field before you send them.

"We're diversifying the genders to create a more balanced mix that's more representative of our world," the company said in a blog post.

In all, Facebook is offering its own design of over 1,500 emojis, and creating over 100 new emojis.

Tony Leach, a product manager at Facebook who works on Messenger, said the company began the redesign to make emojis look consistent in Messenger no matter what platform you use. "If you send one emoji from the iPhone, it could look completely different when someone sees it on Android," he said. "Because this is how people communicate emotion, that can sometimes be kind of a big deal. Important details can left off — an emoji that you're trying to use to convey one feeling might come across as a completely different feeling."

Facebook isn't the only platform attempting to address gender disparity in emojis. Google recently proposed 13 new emojis to better represent women in the workplace.



Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.

Contact Alex Kantrowitz at alex.kantrowitz@buzzfeed.com.

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