We tend to think of the internet as a lawless space where pretty much anything goes. But there is at least one reservation carved out of our digital jungle that is surprisingly tightly controlled: emojis, those smiley yellow faces and red love hearts so beloved by the visually expressive, inventive teenagers and Instagram influencers.

At present, the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organisation run by some of the world's biggest technology companies, maintains an exclusive grip on what constitutes an emoji.

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