English Research Paper

Learning from the ubiquitous language: an empirical analysis of emoji usage of smartphone users

UbiComp '16: Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing |


Emojis have been widely used to simplify emotional expression and enrich user experience. As an interesting practice of ubiquitous computing, emojis are adopted by Internet users from many different countries, on many devices (particularly popular on smartphones), and in many applications. The “ubiquitous” usage of emojis enables us to study and compare user behaviors and preferences across countries and cultures.

We present an analysis on how smartphone users use emojis based on a very large data set collected from a popular emoji keyboard. The data set contains a complete month of emoji usage of 3.88 million active users from 212 countries and regions. We demonstrate that the categories and frequencies of emojis used by these users provide rich signals for the identification and the understanding of cultural differences of smartphone users. Users from different countries present significantly different preferences on emojis, which complies with the well-known Hofstede’s cultural dimensions model.