A couple of days ago, Facebook released 1500 new emoji for its Messenger app. The new set of emoji feature not only simple design changes but incorporates more gender and race sensitivity: more female icons and skin color comes in white, black, brown and yellow (Minions?).
Not only that, the icons are now standardized, it will look the same across iOS and Android devices:
Messenger is addressing emoji woes by rolling out a new set of standardized emojis so you can be sure you’re sending the right message. No matter what emoji you pick, it will now look the same for all Messenger users, regardless if the recipient is on Android, iOS or another platform. In other words, no more broken-looking black boxes or emojis that just don’t make sense. Our characters are consistent every time you use them, no matter what platform the recipient is on.
All this is fine and nice, though I find some of the icons ugly, the kisser emoji lost its cuteness, a move towards diversity and inclusion is always a good one.
However, there’s another update that has slipped past our attention as we were ogling over the new emoji: Facebook is disabling messaging in its mobile web app to push people to Messenger reports Devin Coldeweyon TechCrunch:
Facebook is removing the messaging capability from its mobile web application, according to a notice being served to users: “Your conversations are moving to Messenger,” it reads. Welcome news to the millions like me who switched to the web app in order to avoid Messenger in the first place!
At first it makes sense, if there’s already a dedicated messaging app for Facebook which is Messenger, why bother doing messaging via the mobile app?
Devin points out an often-ignored reality:
I’m a little worried about this, because surely the mobile site is much used by people who have good reason not to download the app. People whose phones don’t have official clients, for instance, or who can’t upgrade to the latest version of an OS, and must access via the web.
And really, it strikes me as quite a hostile move, as it did before when they axed messaging from the main app. If, as everyone in the company is constantly repeating, mantra-like, that they want to connect the world, shouldn’t a diversity of access options be part of that?
So isn’t ironic that Facebook releases an emoji pack that celebrates women and diversity for Messenger while cuts off access to messaging for some segment of its users?
The new features and driving more users to Messenger are aimed at turning the growing platform into a revenue machine for Facebook, but the way it is going about it is quite suspect isn’t it?