On any given day, we share more than 10 billion emojis around the world and the general consensus is that emojis are for causal conversations. However that could all change after a groundbreaking Canadian court case revolving around emoji law and the thumbs-up emoji (👍).

In this case a farmer sent a thumbs-up emoji to a grain buyer, after being sent a photo of a contract to purchase flax seed. After the assumed delivery date passed without any flax in the post, the two parties could not decide on the meaning of the emoji so they took their disagreement to court. The judge ruled that the thumbs-up emoji amounted to a contractual agreement, so the farmer should pay £48,134 to reimburse the buyer for failure to fulfil the contract.

The case has raised awareness of the potential legal implications of using emojis, in particular when discussing transactions. Legal experts are even warning that judges in other countries could use the ruling as a suggestion or advice when dealing with similar emoji-related cases.

This serves as a reminder that even seemingly harmless symbols can have serious consequences. If you are unsure how an emoji might be interpreted, it is best to avoid using it altogether. In addition to the legal implications, it is important to be aware of the cultural implications of using emojis. What might be considered a friendly gesture in one culture could be interpreted as a threat in another. It is always best to be on the side of caution and avoid using emojis that could be misinterpreted.

Here are two tips for using emojis safely:

  • Be aware of the context in which you are using the emoji. If you are sending a message to someone you know well, you may be able to use emojis more freely. However, it may be safer to use normal text only to someone outside of your friends and family.
  • Use emojis that are commonly understood. There are some emojis that have a universally understood meaning, such as the smiley face emoji. But there are also many emojis that have different meanings in other cultures. To avoid misunderstandings, using commonly understood emojis can be a safer approach.

By following these tips, you can use emojis safely and avoid any legal or cultural misunderstandings. In the scenario of discussing contracts via messages, always read and respond clearly and seek legal advice if you are unsure of anything.

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