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Boy petitions Apple to change nerd face emoji

Petitioner Teddy with the
Petitioner Teddy with the

A UK schoolboy is asking Apple to fix and rename what he says is its offensive and insulting "nerd face" emoji, and has created a petition about it.

Petitioner Teddy with the "Apple" icon he so dislikes (source: BBC)

Perhaps a 10-year-old schoolboy couldn't be expected to know that it's actually the Unicode consortium that rules on emoji -- but you'd hope that the teachers encouraging his petition would have looked into it.

According to BBC News, 10-year-old Teddy from Peppard in the UK's Oxfordshire, says that Apple's nerd icon with prominent front teeth gives a bad impression of glasses wearers.

"We want to change this -- Apple are making it absolutely horrible for people wearing glasses," he said. "They're making people think we're nerds and it's absolutely horrible."

"It's making me feel sad and upset," he continued, "and if I find it offensive there'll be thousands of people around the world that find it offensive too."

Teddy has designed his own version, which replaces the teeth with a little closed-mouth grin. "It's got thin lenses and thin frames... and then it's got a little smiley face instead of the horrible rabbit teeth," he said.

While it's the Unicode consortium that decides whether a given emoji will be officially adopted, it is then up to companies precisely how they illustrate it. Examples of at least most emoji design variations, including the one literally called "Nerd Face," are shown on the Emojipedia.

The majority have done the same as Apple with prominent teeth, but Facebook's is close to Teddy's own new design. That Facebook version with just a small grin is solely seen on Android and PCs, though, as a Mac or iPhone on Facebook uses Apple's version.

Facebook switched from teeth to a grin for the nerd emoji in 2018, but only for Android and PC. (Source: Emojipedia)
Facebook switched from teeth to a grin for the nerd emoji in 2018, but only for Android and PC. (Source: Emojipedia)

Facebook switched from teeth to a grin for the nerd emoji in 2018, but only for Android and PC. (Source: Emojipedia)

The boy's petition has been encouraged by a teacher, named only as Lisa, who told the BBC that she loves "his inquisitive mind, and the fact he fights for what he believes in."

"He's quite vocal about it but in quite a grown-up way," she continued, "and I think that should be supported, encouraged and commended as well."

BBC News says that Apple has not commented.