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New U of M study says using Emojis is confusing

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Emoji lovers beware: those little smiley faces may be a fun way to express emotions, but new research shows that they are often misinterpreted.

The emoji study, “Blissfully happy” or “ready to fight”: Varying Interpretations of Emoji," was conducted by GroupLens, a research lab at the University of Minnesota.

Researchers examined how emojis look across different smartphone platforms, as well as the different ways that people interpret emojis.

They studied emojis from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and LG.

"Overall, we find significant potential for miscommunication, both for individual emoji renderings and for different emoji renderings across platforms," the paper says.

Part of the problem is that each smartphone platform has its own emoji font, Hannah Miller, a Ph.D. student who co-authored the paper, explained on the GroupLens blog.

So an iPhone user's grin, for example, looks a lot more enthusiastic on a Samsung phone. (Look up all the different emoji renderings at Emojipedia).

GroupLens also used an online survey to see how people interpreted the most popular emojis.

They found that two people looking at the exact same emoji could have very different interpretations.

The survey showed that people disagreed on whether the sentiment was positive, neutral, or negative 25% of the time, the paper says.

The paper will be published by the 2016 AAAI International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in May, a top data science conference.

Bottom line – the nature of emojis leave them open for interpretation, which can change the tone of the message you're trying to send.

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