Emojis – short and trendy digital images used to signal emotion in digital communication – are increasingly being used as evidence in Chinese courts, local media reports this week.
“An interim court in the southern city of Shenzhen has recognized the response to the use of sun emojis as an endorsement of a lease in a rent dispute,” the Sixth Tone website said in a report on how emojis are being used in courts. , “The County Court of the Eastern Anhui Province has stated that it does not testify to the ratification of the Icon Loan Agreement, which refers to the OK Hand Gesture in 2020.”
Chinese courts have identified emojis in at least 158 cases nationwide since 2018. The number of cases where lawyers have presented emojis as evidence has risen from eight in 2018 to 61 in 2021. There are 23 such cases in 2019 and the highest so far, 66 in 2020.
Data from the country’s national database on cases have been discovered and released online by Jiangsu’s top People’s Court in the eastern Chinese province. The information sparked buzz on Chinese social media with discussions about Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, which has been read more than 200 million times in the past two days.
Ironically, many people have shared emoji for “surprise” after reading the news. Others were loudly surprised at how careful they were at using emojis when exchanging messages.
However, the use of these icons is not controlled and local media reports say there is much confusion about their use.
According to news website thepaper.cn, the Jiangsu Higher People’s Court stated that the definition of emojis is highly subjective and does not have a unified standard, making it difficult for the court to accurately translate the true meaning of symbols.
“Therefore, although emoji can be used as a form of expression as ‘evidence in court,’ the court said in its post that, in the process of a particular practice, the relevant factors still need to be looked at carefully.”
In a 2020 essay entitled “Aggression of Emojis Before the Court: A Sociological Definition,” three Chinese experts said the use was a new challenge for the courts.
“Emojis used as evidence in any language used in communication have posed new challenges for courts to adopt emojis as evidence beyond traditional speech and communication, and to interpret them appropriately, especially their offensive meaning,” Le Cheng said. , Yuxiu Sun and Jian Li, writes in the peer-reviewed journal Social Semiotics, which focuses on communication, cultural studies, linguistics and languages.
According to Sixth Tone, legal experts have acknowledged that interpreting the nuances of emojis is a challenge for the industry.
“In our fast-paced lives, it is not appropriate to treat online expressions as important evidence when people reply without reading a sign of decency or content,” Sixth Tone reports to Shutun, a lawyer and members of the China Law Society, a state-Beijing Youth Daily.