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WhatsApp and other social media platforms have often been criticised before in the past because users are obliged to use one of four or five distinct skin tones that do not adequately cover the richness of human diversity.

2019 sees WhatsApp listen to the criticism and progress towards being more encompassing. With the new updates, people with disabilities will have more representation than before with options for hearing aid and deaf person emojis, probing case and service dogs. There are also options for people with mixed skin tones in manual and motorised wheelchair.  

The LGBT community is also receiving a positive update that encompasses the diversity of interracial relationships that have hitherto been ignored.

It’s also pleasing to see more international communities being represented with Sari and Hindu temple emojis being in the roster.

It’s clear the WhatsApp labs have been keeping an eye on food trends as the milennial’s favourite snack falafel and the health conscious tea lover’s maté have also been included.

Researchers in Edinburgh have discovered that the option to include a diverse array of skin tones is one that social media users want to engage with. They collected a billion tweets and discovered that users often use the skin tone that correlated with their real skin tone.

It’s very clear that diversity and representation on social media is an important concern for people. Computer Scientists may profit from delving into the Edinburgh study and understanding their experiment. Those students going for HSPS, Human Science or Anthropology may want to look at social media representation through academic social lenses.

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