Unicode Consortium — the organisation coordinating software standards — announced 230 new emojis last Tuesday. To the internet’s great glee, these include ‘Pinching Hand’ and ‘Drop of Blood’.

Emoji 12.0 will launch 171 gender and skin tone variations, and introduce interracial couples, disabled people, and regional dress, among others.

Studies show that emoji diversity is crucial in making people feeling accurately represented online, and is less misused than initially feared.

Emojis codify our emotional and linguistic experiences, and even convey socio-political angst. Emoji novels have been written; emojis have starred in Hollywood films.

As our social identities become increasingly digital, emojis’ significance can only grow. Who decides the depiction of emojis representing politically fraught, or enduringly taboo topics?

For instance, Unicode’s publicly-available Requests page shows that requests for Catalonia and Barcelona emojis are “pending”. Jesus and Hamsa emojis have been declined, as well as requests for Masonic symbol and surveillance camera emojis.

Do emojis have the power to trigger difficult conversations, or create controversy? And should the emoji selection be more transparent?

Copyright for this article’s header image goes to Getty.