Emojis are beginning to serve as evidence in the courts (Topic)

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Emojis are beginning to serve as evidence in the courts


There are more and more unusual lawsuits, where emoji emoticons can influence the final decision of the case. Among the evidence in American courts, talking icons are increasingly playing an important role. This conclusion was made by researchers after analyzing court documents over the past 15 years. Emojis can be interpreted in different ways depending on the nature of the dispute in question, for example, a picture with a hint of a threat in a certain situation can become an aggravating circumstance.

The study showed that over 15 years in the US courts, emoji pictures were involved in 171 cases, and about a third of such cases occurred in 2018. From the outset, internet pictograms featured prominently in sexual offenses, but later came to be taken into account in other cases, including robbery and murder. Emoji acted as evidence, especially if both parties to the litigation corresponded using them.

One of the cases where emoji smiles added to the evidence base of the prosecution was a court in San Francisco, where a participant in the case was suspected of pimping. Prosecutors took into account the badges that the suspect sent to the woman in one of the mobile applications. They featured money and high-heeled shoes. The prosecution presented such a correspondence as evidence of the establishment of a business relationship, although the man explained everything with a desire to start a romantic relationship. As a result, the final decision of the court was not based solely on the correspondence with the talking pictures, but they nevertheless contributed to the formation of the evidence base.


Another situation of Internet correspondence involving emoji was considered in Israel. A local court found the failed tenants guilty, ordering them to pay compensation for moral damage to the plaintiff due to the irresponsible use of icons during online communication. The court was on the side of the homeowner who rented out the house. After viewing the property, the couple sent the landlord in correspondence with icons depicting fun, a bottle of champagne and other similar icons. The owner considered that the deal took place, his house was rented out and removed his ad from the site. Later, the married couple "overlapped" and stopped making contact. After that, the owner of the house filed a lawsuit with the court, the decision of which ruled that such correspondence could not be considered a legally valid document,


At the same time, it can be difficult for the judiciary to determine the meaning of emoji in a case at hand. One of the reasons for this is that the same image is different on different resources, and, depending on the context, may have opposite interpretations. Also, one icon can be interpreted differently in different mobile platforms. For example, smiling emoji in older versions of iOS was often perceived with a negative bias, which differed from similar icons on other resources.

The Topic of Article: Emojis are beginning to serve as evidence in the courts.
Author: Jake Pinkman