Ever since Oxford Dictionary selected the tears of joy emoji as the word of the year, no one has contested that emoji are becoming a language all their own. But now, major tech companies are starting to take a socially-minded stand in which emoji are sent out to users. According to a report from Buzzfeed, Apple contested the inclusion of a rifle emoji in the new emoji pack — and the Unicode Consortium (emoji overlords) listened.


Two emoji, a rifle and “modern pentathlon” will not be premiering with the rest of the expansion pack. According to Buzzfeed‘s report, the emoji were voted out at a Unicode meeting in May. Apple suggested the vote and it was quickly unanimously voted out. The inclusion of the rifles had already been protested by a gun control advocacy group in the UK. Unicode’s pool of voting members also includes representatives from Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Apparently the issue was not hotly debated, due mainly to the fact that there is already a handgun emoji, but it shows an interesting new direction for a highly-technical company: having to think about the social impact of emoji. “We’re talking about engineers that are concerned about standards and internationalization issues who now have to do something more in line with Apple or Google’s marketing teams,” one Unicode member told BuzzFeed News.

But because the decision to remove the two emoji came so late in the game, they will not entirely disappear. The modern pentathlon and rifle will appear in the Unicode Character Database but will not appear on our phones. The emoji were originally expected to roll out as part of a new athletic pack to coincide with the Olympics in Rio this summer. The other emoji in the group included medals, a person cartwheeling and boxing gloves.

The remaining 72 emoji that will premiere tomorrow, June 21, will include a burrito, avocado and facepalm. We personally can’t wait to send out the Champagne glasses cheers-ing emoji to celebrate the occasion.

What do you think about Apple’s controversial decision? Let us know @BritandCo!

(h/t Buzzfeed, Photos via Unicode)