Language is dynamic and inevitably adapts to the changes in the society. The advent of technology and increased use of smartphones in text messaging has led to the creation of emojis. Although these features have primarily been developed to ease and enhance communication, they have received much condemnation from individuals who view them as means of enabling tech companies to make money through expressions. To some extent, the views of the critics are right. For example, Twitter advertisers can now target their audiences based on the emoji they tweet. Since tech companies have a profiteering motive from the use of emojis, it is a concern to whether these icons are designed to enhance communication or increase their profits.
Emojis began as colorful icons that were on Japanese pagers in the 1990s. The smiley faces, as well as the physical representation of these images, communicate various human expressions. Therefore, adding emojis in conversation enhances the quality of conversations. In fact, a single emoji can paraphrase an entire sentence. Although the incorporation of emoji’s into communication platforms is essential for enhancing the manner in which people express themselves, the main challenge is that companies and entrepreneurs may attempt to make money off these expressions. In so doing, there is a risk that some emojis may be developed purposely to enhance the corporations profiteering motive. There is also a risk that advertisers can access some sensitive user information through the tracking of emojis.
On one side, corporations have a duty of enhancing users’ experience by introducing the best solution to their challenges. In communication through messaging, users’ ability to express themselves accurately and coherently is a challenge. Usually, communicating various forms of emotions such as a happy, sad, angry, and energetic is difficult to most individuals. Therefore, the introduction of emojis has played an important role in encouraging visual puns and whimsical juxtapositions in communication (Hess). Whereas it is important for corporations to enhance the user experience of their customers’, the use of emojis by companies for profiteering motive undermines these icons role in communication.
Targeted advertisements that some tech companies such as Twitter use can disclose information about the customer, which can result in loss of sensitive information. Additionally, there is a risk that tech companies may give in to the pressures of satisfying their own political or financial interests. In such a scenario, visual language may be shaped and influenced by these companies, which may result in emojis not enhancing users’ experience. From a corporate perspective, tech companies have a duty of not only protecting the interests of the users of their platforms but also those of their shareholders and customers. In this regard, tech companies have a role in ensuring that advertisers- who are their clients- can make targeted advertisements. Similarly, they have a duty of ensuring that they maximize their shareholders’ value by making their business more profitable through innovative and legitimate methods.
Given that corporations have a duty of protecting the interests of all their stakeholders, they must ensure that they do not disclose any sensitive information about its users to advertisers. In an ideal environment, users’ should be able to communicate using emojis without the risk that they may lose confidential information because of the tracking systems set by tech companies. Although people are still communicating using emojis, there is a risk that targeted marketing using these icons can fail to reach its intended audience. Wrong marketing may occur because a single emoji can express multiple feelings depending on the underlying conversation. In such a scenario, information from emojis cannot be beneficial to advertisers. A smiley face, for example, represents happiness, but when used as sarcasm it can express sadness.
Can the use of emojis, by tech companies, in targeted marketing affect user experience in online communication
Hess, Amanda. “Hands Off My Smiley Face: Emoji Become Corporate Tools.” The New York Times, 20 Jun. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2018.