Although emojis have been included in smartphone operating systems for more than a decade, they are just starting to make their way into the world of litigation. While Apple’s emoji debut consisted of 54 emojis, made up primarily of different yellow smiley faces, iPhone now offers its users a broad range of hundreds of emojis, representative of different races, genders, cultures and religions. Today, there are close to 3,000 emojis in the Unicode Standard. As such, people can communicate a lot more through emojis, if they choose. And, the data shows this is what people are choosing. Over 10 billion emojis are sent each day throughout the world. Approximately 92 percent of all people who communicate online or through text messages on a smartphone use emojis, with more than one-third of them using emojis daily. Analysts have referred to the uptick in emoji use as “watching the birth of a new language.”

In 2015, emojis were mentioned in 14 federal and state court opinions. This number increased to 25 in 2016 and 33 in 2017. With the rules of the profession (Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules of Evidence) changing—slowly, albeit surely—to address the advent of social media and electronic communications, it is important to understand how emojis fit into the current legal landscape.

The Ethical Duty of Technology Competence

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