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Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat Are All-In With New Anti-Bullying Emoji

Tech giants hope a new emoji will deter online bullies.


There are new emojis in town! Dozens of them, in fact, but unlike most of its colorful little brethren, one of the new images has a pretty serious connotation behind it.

The Ad Council, a nonprofit that runs public-service campaigns, is promoting a new emoji specifically intended to combat online bullying. The idea is that people who witness bullying online can share the emoji to signal that the bullying should stop or that they support the victim.

Basically, when you don’t know what to say in defense of the bullied, the emoji — an eyeball inside of a speech bubble — can do the talking for you.

“I have a 13-year-old daughter, and she speaks in emojis,” explained Ad Council CEO Lisa Sherman. “This generation of kids, that’s their language. In thinking about the best way to connect with them, working in that world seemed to make the most sense.”

Ad Council

The campaign, called “I Am A Witness,” is launching for National Bullying Prevention Month. New emojis often get people excited, but this launch is interesting in that you’re likely to see a lot of it online. That’s because many of the biggest tech companies out there are partnering with the Ad Council to get the word out. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Adobe, Snapchat, Whisper, Kik — all of these companies are partners to some degree, which basically means that they’re offering up resources for free to help promote the campaign.

On Facebook, that means you’ll see ads for it in News Feed. The same goes for your Twitter timeline. Snapchat will offer U.S. users a specific “I Am A Witness” photo filter on Thursday. None of the companies are charging for the advertising, although they aren’t saying how much the ad space is worth. Snapchat filters alone can run more than $400,000 per day, so it’s not necessarily cheap real estate.

Who knows if people will actually use the emoji. Or if it will curb bullying in the slightest. But people seem to love emojis, and there’s no denying that cyberbullying is still a major issue. So it certainly can’t hurt to try.

The emoji is available as part of an iOS update pushed out Wednesday, or users can download a free app for iOS or Android that includes access to the emoji.

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