Comment in a leading German newspaper regarding the way UTC and Apple handle Emoji as an attack on Free Speech

Marcel Schneider charupdate at
Sat Sep 3 20:10:58 CDT 2016

On Sat, 3 Sep 2016 14:21:22 -0700, Asmus Freytag (c) wrote:

> I don't think that there should be a place on this list for accusing
> people of dishonesty and / or spreading "neo-nazi junk"; and I don't
> know what the marriage status of the editors has to do with anything.
> The central concern of the FAZ article appears to be the role that
> private entities play as gate-keepers of modern communication. That's
> actually a valid concern (see issues like net-neutrality, algorithm
> based search returns and news-feeds and the like). The fact that fine
> distinctions of a technical nature may have been handled with less
> precision than insiders would prefer, is perhaps sloppy, but pretty
> typical for journalism in general.
> None of that warrants the kind of loaded language used here. 
> A./
> PS: must admit, I haven't followed the FAZ in a while, so I have no
> personal knowledge of any changes that may have happened in recent
> years, but in earlier times the Feuilleton (the section that this
> article appeared in) used to be fairly liberal in outlook, certainly not
> given to the extremist views that they are accused of here. And I can
> detect no evidence that the charges below have any merit. 

I admit that I mistook my language level. In front of the long discussion on 
the Unicode List triggered by that FAZ paper, Iʼve ended up bursting out.

The main concern as Doug Ewellʼs last question underscores it, is whether the 
attack against the Unicode Consortium is justified in any way, or is mere calumny.

Further research brings up that the author of the paper is a very young freelance
journalist.[1] That confirms my suspicion that having no children in age of using 
an iPhone, he doesnʼt feel concerned with Appleʼs choice. However he is right in 
that, at the very end of his article he points out the risk of the waterpistol emoji 
being intended as such and received on Android:

“Die in Codes formulierte Entwaffnungspolitik kehrt sich in ihr Gegenteil, 
wenn ein iPhone-Nutzer seine Freunde zu einer Wasserschlacht einlädt und 
ihnen per SMS ein Wasserpistolen-Emoji schickt: Dann erscheint auf dem 
Samsung-Gerät keine Wasserpistole, sondern ein Revolver. Und das könnten 
die Empfänger womöglich missverstehen.”

[revised Google translation: “The disarmament policy that is formulated in codes 
is reversed into its opposite when an iPhone user invites his friends to a water 
fight and sends them a water pistol emoji by SMS: Then the Samsung device does not 
display a water pistol, but a revolver. Something that the receivers could possibly 

Arguing by this very rare case is consistent with the facts-twisting used in other 
parts of the article. This casts a crude twilight on the authorʼs approach. Harsh 
wording such as “doppelzüngig” (deceitful, speaking of Apple and Microsoft); 
“schleift das Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung” (grinds the right on Free Speech, 
as of Apple), pointed as a “Skandal”; “zeugt von einer verqueren Sicht der Dinge”
(brings evidence of an awry/askew/screwy point of view) contrasts with an obvious 
lack of knowledge when talking of Unicode as both proposing and accepting emoji…

As is outlined by a readerʼs comment, while emoji are formally in the first place, 
the demonstration is biased with a mix-up involving speech, then applied to emoji
to make the reader believe that the Orwell-reminiscence is really well-placed.

Unicode and big tech companies are always patient targets for attacks 
of that kind. As pointed by another commenting reader: A tempest in a teapot.

I remember the FAZ feuilleton over a decade ago too, appearing to me always as 
high-quality journalism. A quick look at the last article from the same author[2]
makes me believe that truth and accuracy still conform to the standard.

In return, Iʼm left back with the troublesome question: Why do they hate Unicode,
Apple and Microsoft?



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