Emojis — those little symbols that have become so popular in the last few years — are a means of communication. They should never be ignored, or forgotten. Modern researchers need to be aware of emojis whenever they are used, and their appearance – which may vary depending on the platform they appear on.
Simple emojis can be used to communicate complex ideas. They have reportedly been used in the past for selling drugs – a dollar sign symbol meaning “for sale.” Crystal meth might be noted as a gemstone; injectable drugs, including heroin, could be shown by a syringe.
Emojis can also be used in many ways. As a code one symbol stands for a word or concept different from the picture. Emojis can be used as a cipher, replacing an alphabet or other writing system. They can easily be used as an alternative alphabet. The site at https://codemoji.org/#/encrypt does a good job of explaining cipher encryption with emojis. When used in these ways the messages require decoding – they may be simple cipher, or complex enough to require the use of codebreakers. That is beyond this book. Nonetheless, when sent in the open, and even if they require decoding, emojis are fair game for open source work and are treated as any foreign language page or a message needing translation.
Researchers must be aware, whenever and wherever encountering an emoji, and particularly several in a series, that information is being conveyed though the message may not be apparent to the uninitiated.
A useful guide to official emojis is at https://emojipedia.org
Copyright Mark Monday 2018 Text from the next edition of What You Don’t Know…