Fragments around how the government uses emoji variants to monitor social circles and creativity within closed networks.

Note: My lawyers have advised me to state that this is a fictional conspiracy theory, and not to be taken seriously. Make up your own mind.

What emojis do you use?

Emojis are not a new idea, they’ve been mainstream for a couple of decades by now. Whether it’s a classic 🙂, a sarcastic 🆗, or a bland corporate 👍, they are an established form of social communication.

Who taught you emojish?

So where did you pick up these emojis, and learn how to speak emojish? Your social circles. The same emoji can mean one thing to you, and something completely different to another person, even if they are geographically close to you.

Is it a coincidence that a new form of language evolved, conveniently in an easily analysable form that is accessible to all ages, education levels, and incomes? No, it’s not.

The government are watching

Every time you use an emoji, any emoji, you are being tracked. Ever heard of tracking pixels AKA spy pixels? They are tiny, invisible pixels placed in emails to monitor if you’ve seen them or not. These are used by every marketing company, but they make the foolish mistake of being easily detected and blocked.

You know what isn’t blocked? Emojis! Everyone wants to see them, everyone wants to include them in their emails and messages. Every time you see one, a server has noticed that you’ve received it.

The government are analysing

Maybe you’re naive enough to think that this sounds somewhat innocent. Sure, images get loaded from servers, what’s the big deal? Well, never heard of big data?

By automatically analysing all your messages, and seeing which emojis you send and receive, your social circle can be mapped in extreme detail, and you can be fingerprinted and identified as an individual.

Think you’re smart because you’ve got a burner phone on an anonymous SIM card? Wrong! Your emojis give you away! Every 😃 and 😭 betrays you, and those you communicate with.

No emojis? No problem.

OK, maybe you don’t actually use any actual emojis. Alright, you’re so smart, you’ve avoided the government tracking. Guess you’re untouchable.

Maybe you use Discord, where servers have plenty of customer emojis and stickers. Surely that’s safe from analysing? Nope, you’re even more vulnerable. By analysing how emoji packs degrade in quality and spread between servers, a network can be built up even without access to the server itself.

Need an example? Perhaps you’re in a large programming server, and end up using one of their programming meme emojis in a private chat you and a few friends have to discuss cheating on exams. Maybe one of your friends copies that emoji for another far smaller unrelated server. Maybe another friend does the same.

There’s now a connection between the programming server and the unrelated small server, via a private message. Using timestamps of messages in public servers when these emojis were first used, a web of association can be built up.

With limited data, this will just show which servers have members in common. With more data? Your entire social circle can be mapped out, even if you’ve never interacted with them in a public server. Not so smart now, huh?

Emoji packs

Lots of servers use emoji packs, like the widespread “Joe” set. Ever notice how the original download sites for popular image packs pretend to be such low quality? That’s so you ignore any red flags along the way and the pack can spread easier.

If you make a unique variant, you’re doomed, as that can now be traced back if it ever gets into a public server, and you will be identified as patient zero. Any of your metadata embedded in the emoji will be traced back to you, even if you’ve never spoken in public.

The solution

Don’t use emojis. Only use words, and speak in the most generic, boring way possible to avoid any unique identifiers. Ever wondered why AIs have that bland, neutral style? To avoid adding noise to the emoji analysing agencies. Connect the dots.