LGBT people are being abused with an ‘anti-LGBT’ flag emoji online, thanks to a Unicode feature that allows people to put a no sign over any other emoji.
UK-based Radam Ridwan — who is non-binary — posted on Twitter on Wednesday about sustained queerphobic abuse that they received on Instagram from random trolls.
“i’ve been harassed with this emoji in my comments on instagram for the past few days. it is apparently an unofficial emoji created by a “glitch” where [rainbow flag emoji] and ⃠ are smushed together to create a symbol being used to spread hate towards queer people,” they tweeted.
i’ve been harassed with this emoji in my comments on instagram for the past few days.
it is apparently an unofficial emoji created by a “glitch” where ????️???? and ⃠ are smushed together to create a symbol being used to spread hate towards queer people. pic.twitter.com/Olng34cn9n
— the obviously attractive radam ridwan (@radamridwan) January 19, 2021
They called on Apple and Instagram to remove the feature and to consider this against community guidelines, respectively.
It’s been around for awhile
The use of the anti-LGBT emoji has been a well-documented problem in the past.
In 2019, there was a news cycle of coverage about the feature after a viral tweet claiming it was the result of a glitch.
But the founder of Emojipedia and emoji expert Jeremy Burge explained to Out that this feature — combining an emoji with the no character — works for any emoji or other character. A 2016 Emojipedia article includes the ‘no’ feature as one of its ‘Fun Emoji Hacks’.
So while that explains how this anti-LGBT flag comes about, it doesn’t justify its continued existence.
Gizmodo Australia has seen dozens of recent examples of this being used on social media as abuse, but has chosen not to include them.
I mean, c’mon. It’s 2021 now. We know that decisions that platforms make shape the user experience and their behaviours.
It’s hard to fathom a reason why users should be able to create an anti-LGBT emoji other than its inevitable (and current) use to abuse people in the queer community.
Why tech companies still allow an easily emoji feature that slips through any anti-abuse filter is beyond explanation.
Most of the time, emoji news is about the addition of new characters. Let’s hope the next update includes them taking at least one away.