Facebook has added new variants of its family emoji sets that represent a spectrum of skin colors. Previously, only the default yellow tone was supported for family emoji that were all shown together, but this change adds a range of skin tones from white to black. The new emoji skin tone options cover every existing set, including straight, LBGT, and single families with any combination of one or two children. The new emoji are out on desktop effective immediately, but there is no word on when or if they will come to mobile.
There are a few caveats, however. The first is that these new emoji, being unsupported in the mobile app, will only appear as they should on the desktop version of Facebook for now. Mobile users trying to view colored family emoji received from a desktop user will see the different family members separate. Additionally, this expansion does not come with an expansion to the possible combinations of family members, so polyamorous families or families with more than two children are still not represented for now. Additionally, the skin tone options affect the full family together, which means that interracial families or families who have adopted children of a different race are currently left without representation also. This is largely due to the way emoji are coded and how that code is interpreted within Facebook. Trying to copy in emoji from platforms that do support one or more of these features, such as the default Windows 10 emoji, will result in erroneous behavior such as reverting to the default yellow emoji or showing the family as separate emoji.
Social change looms large over the virtual world in many ways, and this inclusive move, though not all-inclusive, is certainly a step in the right direction for Facebook. For many, the default yellow skin tone was closer to white than to most other races, leaving many users demanding representation. The family emoji set is a particularly tough hurdle, as it will require incorporation of flexible code into Unicode, or all platforms to adopt specific unified code in order to support a wider range of family combinations.