Weekend Rants: If not racist, what is the function of these coloured WhatsApp smileys?

WhatsApp is undoubtedly the most popular IM app in existence. With it’s availability on all smart phone platforms, it has almost replaced the use of SMS. This is notwithstanding, their recently introduced calling feature that’s also gaining momentum. All that is story for another day.

WhatsApp Smileys

WhatsApp is of the habit of dropping tiny incremental updates to their Android app, almost on a daily basis. We would’ve preferred they lump the fixes and release them monthly, but then we always update once we feel the need to. Rumours filtered on the internet, saying WhatsApp introduced coloured emoji. I took them with a pinch of salt, until it got to me.

After an update, opened my favourite WhatsApp group and started seeing some black emojis. Quickly rushed to check mine and saw them peeping back at me. (See the screenshot above) From the very yellowish hands to the dark black hands. After looking at this for about a minute, I asked, “What’s the need for this?”

Please why do we have these coloured smileys? Till date, I still can’t wrap my head around the reason for it’s implementation. What necessitated the need for it? What purpose does it serve if not to trigger this racism of a thing that has been debated since time immemorial?

So for instance, I am a black man, does that mean I should only use the black emojis and leave the white ones? Let’s say I want to make a hand gesture, I should pick the black hands instead of the yellow hands? Don’t know if it’s just me (or a personal grudge) but I feel uncomfortable whenever I’m to pick a smiley in a chat, and I’m presented with couple of coloured heads and hands.

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The point here is this: there’s really no need for these coloured smileys. WhatsApp should rather focus on some other failing parts of their app. Currently, anyone in a group can change group names and group profile pics which is wrong. This is something that should be left for admins only. I trust BBM on that front.

Do you think these WhatsApp smileys are silly? Your thoughts.

Etoniru Chibueze

Chibueze is an award-winning gadget reviewer and geek. He loves research, while living and breathing tech. You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter ,OR LinkedIn

9 thoughts on “Weekend Rants: If not racist, what is the function of these coloured WhatsApp smileys?

  • August 17, 2015 at 8:36 am
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    Well, I think it depends on where u look at it from. Other people may complain about their race not being represented. It’s true whatsapp have features to work on, especially the calls, but I don’t think the coloured emojis is a big deal. At least, u have the option to choose. They probably introduced this bearing the thought of multinational representation in mind. Well, there would b a red flag if they had included a coloured emoji with a monkey face along with the usual faces of different colours.

    • August 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm
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      Thank you sir. Truly appreciate this 🙂 *dancing Awilo*

  • August 18, 2015 at 12:03 am
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    no its nice, i remember one company making emojis only in black colour and their reason was that coloured emojis were hard to find so i think its all about choice, its what suits you but that group name-picture changing ish annoys the hell outta me, i wish whatsapp does something about it

  • August 18, 2015 at 10:01 pm
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    I use the yellow ones always. I haven’t touched the coloured ones. The coloured ones are uncool.

  • September 2, 2015 at 2:05 am
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    Hi,
    If they concern about the choice of people which colour to pick,then why they didn’t introduce these five colours on family smiley,or the couple ones?why they are all yellow? Then why ”traditional” round smilies are all yellow?why they didn’t put colour option for them?

  • September 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm
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    this can also mean that they want to diversify the emoticons, color emoji and emoticon can help users to have a longer connect to the app.

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