Is the COVID-19 emoji accurate or a viral mistake?

 - Art - Oct 16 SHARE ON:
Is the COVID-19 emoji accurate or a viral mistake?

As the pandemic hit and shaped the entire way we lived our lives, you’ve probably noticed a little green splurge appearing almost everywhere on social media. The bacteria emoji was taken up to represent the SARS-CoV2 virus as we searched for an emoji accurate enough to interpret what we as a human race were experiencing. But is the use of this emoji actually accurate or did it just go viral (pun intended) by mistake?

Known more accurately as the microbe emoji, the sign’s usage spiked exponentially. Speaking to Joe Hewitt, a writer on Medium, chief emoji officer at Emojipedia Jeremy Burge explained how the use of the emoji increased 1,519% from August 2019 to April 2020, despite representing only a measly 0.06% of total emoji use. Despite being one of the least used pictograms, it’s burden of representing the dreaded virus catapulted it to the forefront nonetheless. 

Where did the emoji come from? And how does it change how we should all think about the world’s fastest growing language – that is, emojis. Well, for an emoji to make the next OS update, it is first proposed to the Unicode Consortium. This is a non-profit which forms the bridge between computing and spoken/written languages. Its purpose? – enable people around the world to use computers in any language. 

Emoji as a language grew from just 698 characters in 2010 to doubling to 1,317 in just ten years. Anyone can propose an emoji, but they all need to follow strict guidelines to get approved. The green splatter emoji was proposed in April 2017 and released in 2018. The emoji was proposed as a request to reflect science in everyday conversation, with the Facebook page ‘I F*cking Love Science’ proving that science established itself on social media. There were specific emojis which made the cut to facilitate science communication;

However, you’ll only see the toxic green splat if you’re an Apple user. If you use Android or even Twitter, you’ll get a more bug-like bacterium emoji. With the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee (ESC) acting as experts to review submissions for new emoji and update characters, its up to the designers at the tech companies to craft interpretations. This might seem as an easy task, but how an emoji looks can change how a conversation progresses. 

The smiling poop emoji for example sparked an entire debate whether to be included or not. In fact, out of the recorded 1,204 requests for new emoji characters, around 22% get the green light. This is because some emojis could clutter language or ‘open the floodgates’ to unnecessary icons. The success of emojis could be attributed to accessibility, universal understanding and emotionality. But this changed with the mosquito emoji.

The emoji was proposed in July 2016, during the Zika epidemic in South America. Ian M. Mackay, PhD, submitted the proposal, arguing that the impact of diseases should be acknowledged in emoji language. The mosquito emoji offered more than just a new character – it offered a tool for public health. This brings us to the infamous green splat. Typing germ, microbe, bacteria, amoeba or even virus gives you this green splat as a result. 

For a scientist, these words are not the same. This sparked an attempt to be more accurate in their depiction of COVID-19 through emojis. Some have resorted to placing it next to a crown to signify ‘corona virus’, others use the mask emoji, while others use more problematic combos such as the splatter next to the flag of China. In essence, the lack of accurate COVID-19 emojis lead to people either using this little emoji as a catch all or making up combos as they go. 

This might invite developers of emoji to be more accurate in their depictions. Emojis are no longer just heart eyes or funny faces. They are representing more and more of our life – and life is nuanced. The decision to change an emoji could broaden public understanding of a topic and considering how important it is for us to be safe during the pandemic, it might not be bizarre to foresee the bacteria emoji being expanded upon. 


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Squid game gets best all-time series launch with 111 million view in first month

 - News - Oct 16 SHARE ON:

Korean Netflix series Squid Game has managed to draw 111 million in its first month of streaming, the tech giant estimates, securing the biggest launch month in Netflix history.

The figures surpass the previous record set by Bridgerton last Christmas, which was seen by 82 million households in December. In terms of sampling, the streaming company counts views of two minutes and over of any episode as an official view count.

The dystopian action-drama follows the story of Seong Gi-hun, a gambling-addicted father trying to get his life back together, and successfully brought Korean product to the mainstream by reaching No. 1 in a whopping 90 countries after its debut. Squid Game is the latest in a string of non-English Netflix dramas which hit the streaming charts, following the likes of Money Heist, Dark and Lupin.


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Corradino prisoner possessing dossier with details of children

 - Local - Oct 16 SHARE ON:
Corradino prisoner possessing dossier with details of children

A prisoner serving time at Corradino Correctional Facility has been caught possessing a dossier containing information about the children of local politicians, TV personalities, journalists, judiciary members and other notable figures in the local scene.

The dossier also includes details about children of other inmates, all of which was gathered from media reports according to Television Malta. Corradino director Alex Dalli has reportedly passed on the information to The Malta Police Force, who have launched an investigation on the matter.

The prisoner has since been disallowed from attending mass and going to communal areas with other inmates.



Doja Cat overtakes Drake to become most-listened rap artist on Spotify

 - Music - Oct 16 SHARE ON:

When it comes to rappers, few can boast the phenomenal figures that Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham has managed to garner over the years, but rap reportedly has a new queen and fans are going wild over it.

Doja Cat has reportedly topped the rapper’s list on Spotify, gaining the most monthly listeners on the global streaming service with the 25-year-old sitting at a humble 63.69 million monthly listeners, as opposed to Drake’s 63.3 million monthly listeners.

Drake currently sits at third place, with ‘Industry Baby’ rapper “Lil Nas X surpassing him just slightly. with 63.62 million monthly listeners. All three artists releasing a new album over the past few weeks with “Certified Lover Boy”, “MONTERO” and “Planet Her”, garnering millions of streams with Justin Bieber holding the top spot overall lat 85.2 million monthly listeners.


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