Emoticons: Those tiny pictures we use to add a little flavor to our text messages and tweets. Thanks to the emoji, which means “picture character” in Japanese, we have a wide variety of choices at our fingertips to express ourselves.
To find out which ones are the most popular, Matthew Rothenberg created a code for counting the number of emojis used on Twitter in real-time, across the globe.
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Rothenberg, former head of product at Flickr and Bitly, launched Emojitracker in 2013 to focus on his own projects and how people use technology in their everyday lives.
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Since its debut, Emojitracker has tracked more than 4 billion tweets containing an emoji.
What are your favorite emojis? Let us know on Twitter @NBCNightlyNews.
“The deeper I got into this project, the more interesting it became,” he said. “The symbols themselves don’t have that much intrinsic meaning, but the way we’ve used them – we’ve socially embedded so much meaning into them.”
The site went live on July 4, 2013, and Rothenberg remembers that the fireworks and hamburgers were early frontrunners for the most popular emojis due to the American holiday.
This week, the soccer ball emoji has seen a surge in popularity. Not surprising, said Rothenberg, as the World Cup gets underway in Brazil.
But the most fascinating part of the project for Rothenberg is the social significance of the little emoticons.
“A lot of these emoji characters have personalities and connotations to using them socially,” Rothenberg said. That’s not a technical invention, that’s a social and cultural invention, something we’ve done ourselves.”
Check out how all 865 emojis rank here.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that all kinds of hearts top the list, and the first emoji to appear that isn’t gender neutral is a woman. She’s in 20th place for most used, and, according to the emoji cheat sheet, she’s called “Information Desk Person.”