Apple’s new emoji search function introduced with iOS 14 has come under criticism: When searching for the English word "stammering" (stutter) iPhone hits the fog emoji, which Apple has dubbed the "Woozy Face" and is commonly used to signal drunkenness, for example. Such a link is "demeaning and hurtful", according to the British Association of Stuttering Stamma. Treating stuttering as a joke leads to stigma.
Algorithm or manual database
The association says it has received hundreds of annoying messages from members… Stamma has now called on Apple to review its algorithms and to improve the "highly obstructive function" urgently to remove.
For now, it remains unclear whether iOS has only recently started suggesting the emoji or whether it has been doing so since the release of iOS 14 last fall. It’s also not yet clear whether Apple uses machine learning for the search function and creates the suggestions automatically or whether they were fed into the database individually by hand. For the emoji suggestions that pop up directly when text is entered, Apple has long relied on capturing user input to identify particularly popular emojis, for example – the data collection is protected by "Differential Privacy".
No drunk emoji at "stutter"
On the advice of the Mac i editors, the emoji suggestions during text input appeared when entering "stammering" no fog emoji. That showed up with the search term first in the standalone emoji search function, which is part of the iOS keyboard. For the German counterpart "stutter" there is no such linkage, also the English "stuttering" does not lead to the Woozy Face. The fog emoji was introduced as part of Unicode 11 in 2018, and its official name is "Face with Uneven Eyes and Wavy Mouth".