Abstract: Emojis have been called a “new type of language.” According to statistics cited by Ad Week, as much as 92% of the online population uses emojis. Twitter reports that since 2014 alone, over 110 billion emojis have been tweeted. Yet, despite the profusion of emojis in digital life, little research has been done that leverages emojis to understand popular sentiment. We believe that emoji data science, a largely unexplored field, might be a powerful new methodology for both the computational social sciences as well as fast data journalism. We’ll share preliminary research based on an analysis of millions of tweets that explores the relevance of emoji analytics to fields ranging from pop culture (i.e. the Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift dispute), to politics (the US presidential elections as well as Brexit), to gender norms, to the Olympics, and more. We’ll also introduce concepts including emoji valence, hashtag-emoji co-occurrence, and sentiment analysis that combine the fields of computational linguistics and natural language processing to provide building blocks for understanding what emojis mean and what they reveal about our culture.
Bio: Hamdan Azhar is the founder of PRISMOJI, a data journalism lab dedicated to meaningful storytelling about politics, culture, and society. Hamdan was previously a data scientist at Facebook where he designed experiments to measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads. Prior to that, he worked at an ads startup and served as the national statistician on Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. In his vibrant life as a journalist, Hamdan's writings on drones, emojis, and campaign spending have been published in Forbes, VICE, the Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor. Hamdan, a New York native, holds a master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of Michigan, a bachelor’s in economics from Penn State, and spent one year in the neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago.