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FiveThirtyEight

Emoticons have come a long way since the days of :-)

Thanks to emojis (the name means “picture character” in Japanese), we can express far more complex emotions and ideas. But what exactly are we choosing to convey? To find out, Matthew Rothenberg created a code for counting the number of emojis used on Twitter. In real-time.

The project is all the more exciting because the tweets ratcheting up the emoji count are in Arabic, English, Russian, Greek, Mandarin and other languages. So the results look like a motherboard of online expression that traverses linguistic divides.

On Thursday morning, we pulled the top 100 emojis used so far on Twitter. Here’s some of what we noticed:

  • “Hearts” tops the list by a mile. With more than 342 million tweets, hearts account for 10 percent of all emoji uses in the top 100. But love, in general, is prominent, too. Hearts appear in 14 of top 100 emojis (including No. 4, “Heart Eyes,” and No. 87, “Heart Eyes Cat”).
  • There’s no racial diversity.
  • In 20th place, the first emoji to appear that isn’t gender neutral is a woman (great!). But according to the emoji cheat sheet, she’s titled “Information Desk Person” (not so great). The only character who appears to be a man is “Walking,” the 91st most tweeted emoji.
  • Emoji users are discerning. Note the subtle difference between “Cry” (No. 39) and “Disappointed Relieved” (No. 75). Only the eyebrows change direction, and yet “Cry” has been used more than twice as often.
  • I’m surprised “Poop” has only been used 7 million times. Maybe Twitter isn’t such a pessimistic place after all.

100 Most Used Emojis copy

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