A charity in the U.K. has called out Apple for users seeing a “woozy face” emoji when they type the word “stammering” into iOS messaging apps.
The keyboard and apps on the iPhone are prone to suggesting emoji alongside other words when entering letters. On Tuesday, a charity publicly complained about one suggestion, which offers a “woozy face” emoji when users type the word “Stammering.”
STAMMA, the British Stammering Association, claims it has been contacted by hundreds of its members, who saw the offending emoji on their iPhone and iPad when searching for the word.
“This is demeaning and damaging. Stammering is how some people talk,” said STAMMA CEO Jane Powell. “Treating it as a joke is stigmatizing. It can leave people embarrassed about how they sound, bullied and ashamed, which can affect their mental health, careers, and relationships.”
Member complaints say the emoji appears in various apps, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and iMessage, with it surfacing when the keyboard is in use.
The emoji in question is known on Emojipedia as “Woozy face,” and takes the form of a face with one eye half open and an uneven smile. In WhatsApp, the emoji features a sticking-out tongue, while its official Unicode 11 name is “Face with Uneven Eyes and Wavy Mouth.”
It is unknown exactly why the emoji appears in the keyboard, but machine learning may be behind its inclusion. Apple, and other tech companies, incorporate machine learning into their products, which can be used to determine things like common word or emoji usage for specific terms, which could be an explanation for the situation.
AppleInsider was able to recreate the claim, with it starting to appear in Emoji search from the term “Stam,” before becoming the only viewable emoji at “Stamm.” Meanwhile, using the text “Stut” brings up emoji with closed eyes and angry expressions, known as “Confounded Face” and “Persevering Face.”
STAMMA has contacted Apple about the emoji and requesting it be changed to no longer show the emoji at all. It has also requested members and supporters to report the issue to Apple as “Inappropriate emoji” and citing complaint case ID 101412774805.
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