Twitter follows Apple’s lead on gun emoji

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Pistol emoji going away
Twitter's version of the pistol emoji is being replaced with a squirt gun. Apple made this switch years ago.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The pistol emoji has been rejected by Twitter. Instead, its place is being taken by a bright green squirt gun.

Apple was the first to replace this controversial emoji with a harmless pool toy, and many other companies have followed suit.

This will likely cause some people to roll their eyes at what they consider political correctness. To them, the pistol emoji is an innocent part of a “just shoot me” message.

Others know how often the pistol is used in cyber bullying. Or to threaten ex-wives. That’s much harder to do that with a colorful pool toy.

The slow death of pistol emoji

Apple put a water toy in place of a gun in its emoji lineup back in 2016.   Other companies have since followed, including Samsung.

But there are holdouts. Some device makers have resisted, including Microsoft and Google. These both use semi-realistic pistols. And phones that haven’t been updated in years can have outdated emojis.

This means everyone need to be careful using the pistol emoji. A joking threat to squirt water on someone could look threatening on a device in which an actual picture of a gun appears.

The confusion is a result of the way emojis are exchanged between devices. Unicode numbers are sent, not images. It’s up to the device to turn the number into a picture. And phone makers use slightly different pictures.

This is also why Apple, Twitter, etc. can’t just get rid of the gun emoji. That’s decided on by the Unicode Consortium, an industry group. Phone makers do wield a great deal of influence with the Consortium, though. Apple reportedly used its clout to block the addition of a rifle emoji a few years ago.