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The algorithm shows which new emoji Twitter users want most

Emoji have become an ubiquitous form of communication. And like any form of language, they can have social effects. The addition of a hijab emoji has given Muslim women some inclusiveness, while the mosquito emoji is used by medical professionals to explain diseases such as malaria and zika.

The gatekeeper of the emoji world is the Unicode consortium, a non-profit organization that decides which emoji will make it onto our phones. Every year the consortium publishes a selection of new emoji. But not everyone agrees with what they approve and reject.

A new emoji tracker could help them make future decisions. Researchers from Haslam College of Business and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, developed the system to understand which emoji the public wants to have on social media.

“Analyzing new emoji requests on social media is one way to collect ideas. Interactive real-time enables the Unicode consortium’s staff to measure demand by looking only at the results we have developed in our ranking system, ”said Yunhe Feng, co-author of the study, in a statement.

Building the tool was a complicated task. The team first used Twitter̵

7;s streaming APIs to collect over 30 million English tweets using the “Emoji” keyword. They then filtered out the bots by removing users who created more than 10 emoji tweets a day. Finally, they analyzed the timing, location, and context of new requests and conducted a mood analysis to find which emojis were most wanted.

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To the researchers’ surprise, many users requested emojis that had already been published by the Unicode consortium. The vast majority of these requests were made by mobile users, which researchers believe is due to the fact that they don’t have built-in emoji pickers.