by: Nick Maresco

The frenzy of anti-gay (and more) emojis started on February 18th when a Twitter user that goes by the name of @mioog or Mitchell, tweeted the image of a gay pride flag with a no-sign over it. Naturally, people flipped out and assumed this was the fault of Apple due to a possible glitch in their latest software update. Although they were correct about it being a glitch, the fault was certainly not Apples.

The glitch that started the newly created meme of spamming such emojis on all sorts of platforms is called, “Unicode.”

In this case, people are using Unicode to take the “no-sign” or the “international prohibition sign” and overlay it on top of a series of characters which would be the desired emoji. Unicode is part of a bigger fabric of a network known as the “Unicode Consortium.” The Unicode Consortium is the basis for typing and available characters on any platform that uses Unicode. Some of those companies are Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.

If you’ve wondered why emojis on an Android phone differ from the ones on an Apple, it is because Android does not use Unicode.

In the Unicode Consortium, each character or emoji has a designated code. For instance, the code for the no-sign is  U+20E0, and the code for the Gay Pride flag can be any one of these, U+1F3F3, U+FE0F, U+200D, U+1F308. When knowing the Unicode titles for a certain emoji, anyone can overlay that no-sign and make it appear as an actual emoji.

When people saw the tweet by @mioog and recognized it as Unicode, several people decided to try it for themselves and put no-signs over emojis. Some depicting a Muslim woman in a hijab, a black man or woman, or even children. All with a no-sign over them. Not only did people use the no-sign to create an intended or possibly unintended racist/sexist joke, they also used other characters along with Unicode to create emojis that depicted Swastikas.


Although Apple is 100% not responsible for the rise in those new emojis, they have received a bulk of the blame by the people who are actually unaware of Unicode. Even the people who know that this is just a minor glitch, still have put a lot of heat on Apple for not doing anything about it, which they really can’t.

Since the mass sharing of these emojis have become mainstream in social media, most people have found out about their existence through another person online, or through meme accounts who have now seemed to adopt them, or receive them, in every post.

Even though this is a big thing to people of the LGBT and meme communities, we believe this fad will end soon, with time.