The decision-making behind emoji

Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge. Photo Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Emoji, the little icons used to represent everything from human expressions to various foods, are wildly popular around the world as a form of expression and communication. But less widely known is that these little icons are chosen and managed by the Unicode Consortium, a nearly 30-year-old organization that's also responsible for all the letters and characters in our smartphone keyboards. Its members include major companies like Apple and Google.

The bottom line: Adding new emoji to the permanent collection every year is challenging. Sure, sifting through all the proposals submitted is mostly just time consuming, but making those final cuts is really the hardest part. "That's when you really gotta be sure that that's the right characters to add," Jeremy Burge, founder of Emojipedia and the vice chair of the consortium's Emoji Subcommittee, tells Axios.