Cross-platform consistency, and gun sense, has taken hold in the emoji universe.
Microsoft announced on Friday that it will be switching its gun emoji to a water pistol. The change came two days after Google rolled out an update that replaced its gun emoji with the colorful water pistol toy. Facebook also confirmed to Emojipedia on the day of the Google update that it was in the process of making the switch, too.
So now, with Microsoft’s switch, all major platforms have abandoned gun emojis in favor of water pistols.
The gun-to-water pistol transition began in 2016, when Apple, via Unicode, initiated the change.
As Microsoft’s reference to “values” in its tweet indicates, the recent switches by Google and Microsoft could reflect solidarity with the growing gun control movement. High school students across the country have staged walk-outs as part of the “March For Our Lives” movement started by Parkland, FL shooting survivors.
The change may be “values” based, but it’s also an important one for cross-platform communication.
“When dealing with an emoji like this, the most important part is that there is some form of consistency between platforms,” Jeremy Burge, the editor of Emojipedia, said. “It probably doesn’t matter too much which eye is closed in the winking face emoji, but when we’re talking about the difference between a toy and a weapon the difference is important.”