How Emojis Work

They Call It 'Crying With Laughter'

variety of emojis variety of emojis
A variety of emojis are on display, including the ever-popular 'crying while laughing.' Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

As of 2018, there are more than 2,800 emoji listed in the Unicode Standard. Each year, though, the Unicode Consortium reviews about 100 proposals for new icons. Promising symbols are uploaded to the Unicode Web site for public review, to weed out any that may be inappropriate or too specific. The consortium always rejects emojis based on living people, deities and business logos. The few that survive the procedure are released to the emoji library and are available to software programmers and hardware vendors [sources: Lien, Lieu, Emojipedia].

Emojis are standardized by the consortium, but they aren't trademarked or copyrighted in anyway. Emojis are open-source and free for anyone to use for any purpose, though some ideas, such as the critically skewered "The Emoji Movie," were probably best left on the "drawing board" instead making it into reality [source: Fortune].

Not all emojis get much use. Those floppy diskette and analog telephone emojis probably weren't necessary.

But others have become incredibly popular, leaving a mark on our collective cultural consciousness. In 2017, the "crying with laughter" face was the world's most popular emoji for the third straight year, followed by the basic heart symbol. The crying-with-laughter icon is so common that in 2015 Oxford Dictionary chose it as the word of the year.