Imagine your ex sent you this message.
How would you interpret it?
When it turned up as evidence in a court case,
a New Zealand judge convicted the sender of stalking,
sentencing him to eight months in jail.
The judge reasoned that the words plus emoji combined to convey an actual threat.
What about this one? Fist, point, ambulance?
那这句话呢:拳头 指向 救护车?
No text, just the three emojis.
The defendant here was also charged for stalking.
He had previously attacked the guy he sent this message to.
Between 2004 and 2018 there’s been a surge
of emoticons and now emojis in the courtroom.
They’re cropping up as evidence in cases from
prostitution stings to real estate disputes.
It’s the world we live in,
sending a wrong string of emojis could be held against you in court.
To charge someone with a crime there’s a couple elements.
You have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed the illegal act.
But another part of it is establishing that they did so with criminal intent.
They acted knowingly or maliciously.
Running over someone in your car
on accident while horrific is something
different than taking aim and mowing someone down
because you have it out for them.
Interpretation is where emojis present a special set of challenges.
You’ve probably heard of the Unicode Consortium.
They’re the non-profit group that standardizes emojis.
The Unicode value is a basic black and white outline.
All the fun details are up to the platforms.
Here’s the emoji that is listed as grinning face with smiling eyes by unicode.
Researchers found a significant split in how
people interpreted the sentiment of this one.
That’s just among Apple users.
To up the interpretation difficulty,
check out how it renders across different platforms,
and how those different users interpret it.
If a court has to interpret both what the sender
meant and how the recipient might have understood it,
that’s a lot of room for misinterpretation,
and that’s what makes emojis challenging in a legal sense.
Teamwork makes the dream work high heel, money bags.
团队合作成就梦想 “高跟鞋”表情符号 “钱袋”表情符号
Prosecutors offered this message as evidence
that the sender was guilty of pimping charges.
They said the emojis and the messages implied
a working relationship between the dude who sent
it and the woman he was sending it to.
The defense said,”No,
it could also be read as his attempt at starting a romantic relationship.
It all goes down in the DMs, Your Honor.”
So far, there hasn’t been a case that really hinged
solely on the way you interpret a specific emoji.
But with the explosion, and texting, and DMing, experts say it’s only a matter of time
不过随着表情符号 短信等大量使用 专家表示这只是时间问题
and our courts haven’t yet established a consistent way of handling emojis when they are entered as evidence
Sometimes they are admitted altogether or they get read aloud which neuters their effect.
有时它们被一概承认 或者被大肆宣扬 但这些都多少削弱了其效果
Smiley face, smiley face.
A good recent example of this was the trial
of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.
有关“丝绸之路”的创始人 Ross Ulbricht的审讯
There were emojis
in the transcript that was being read as evidence and his attorneys
argued that it was critical to the case that jurors be shown the emojis.
The judge eventually agreed.
Law professor and emoji law expert,
Eric Goldman suggests that we should adopt
a standard way of dealing with emojis as evidence.
For one thing,
we should show them just as they were originally
sent rather than trying to read them out loud or describe them with words.
A pair of law professors in Australia propose we create
a specialty court where
accredited specialists in digital speech issues could assist judges.
The professors say this setup would be similar to
courts that specialize in juvenile justice,
mental health, or intellectual property.
One final suggestion from the experts is
basically take away a little bit of the copyright protection
for how emojis are rendered.
The reason they all look different
across different platforms is that companies want to
avoid getting into intellectual property disputes over the rendering of emojis,
like grinning face with smiling eyes.
So Goldman is saying basically,
if we can all just use
the same rendering across all of our platforms,
we’ve then reduced the chances that somebody is going to misinterpret what you sent.
Thanks for watching. Hit the comments to puzzle out
any ambiguous emoji laden messages you’ve gotten recently.
Let us know how you think the courts
should handle emojis when they’re entered as evidence.
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Imagine your ex sent you this message.