Girl, 12, charged for threatening her school with emojis

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Mon Feb 29 15:55:12 CST 2016

This discussion is not official, but visibly a court takes emojis seriously
and wants to assign them a legal meaning... Well emojis were initially
designed to track amotions and form a sort of new language, but the court
will have to explain what is the meaning of these 3 characters (not really
images, just a handful of bytes in a short message) in legal terms. These 3
characters are very far from being convincing, even if they are interpreted
as 3 words. This is very low for accusing someone so young of threatening
someone with dangerous words.
Take a linguistic dictionnary, it is full of these dangerous words. Take a
catalog of firearms from the NRA, it is largely more threatening, but the
NRA is not charged in a US court... And these characters are really fake
firearms, very virtual.

So it's not the meaning, nor the technical mean by which these terms were
sent which is essential, the court will in fact want to judge about the
intent and the effective psychological nature of this threat. What is the
real intent of a 12-year old girl? There's not enough element in the short
message to judge and given her age she does not really realize that this
could have a so dramatic effect (nobody has experienced that before based
on only three words which are not even evident personal insults).

We'll have to bring to the fire many old famous comics (intended to
children) showing similar images in bubbles instead of slang words, or
label them "only for adults".

2016-02-29 10:18 GMT+01:00 Asmus Freytag (t) <asmus-inc at>:

> On 2/28/2016 11:14 PM, Tex Texin wrote:
> However, how any of this belongs on the Unicode list is beyond me. Surely
> we do not need to comment on every use of emoji that occurs in the media.
> But there you are mistaken, my dear sir!
> We are constantly told that the discussions on this list have no official
> status, and cannot affect the UTCs deliberations, so the only useful topics
> left are of the "facebook"-post ilk.
> A./
> PS: now what was the "tongue-in-cheek" emoji character code again?
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