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Search for forgiveness emoji intensifies – Former president picks a winning design

Forgivemoji, a campaign searching for an emoji to symbolise forgiveness, is nearing its conclusion. From hundreds of design ideas by the general public, the former president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, has picked  a winning candidate.

The emoji chosen by Halonen features two hands giving a thumbs-up sign in front of a heart background. The design highlights the positive emotional side and the peace-building effect of forgiveness.

Halonen’s choice will next be presented to Unicode, the consortium controlling the official emoji selection.

"The current climate of discussion can often be very polarised. I would like for online conversations to have more empathy, moderation, and a willingness to acknowledge one’s mistakes. As emojis are nowadays an inseparable element of communication between people, so that is why the world needs an emoji that says ’I forgive you.’” Halonen states.

”Finland has a great reputation as a global force in both peace-building and in technology. The Forgivemoji campaign unites these two Finnish strengths in an ingenious way. I hope my particiaption in this campaign helps the forgiveness emoji to be accepted into the official emoji fold,” Halonen says.

The global Forgivemoji campaign originated in Finland in late 2019, stemming from the realisation that the official emoji catalogue currently contains more than 3,000 emojis but so far none of them symbolises forgiveness.

”President Halonen was exactly the right person to pick a winning emoji candidate. The purpose of an emoji for forgiveness is to build bridges between people, just as Halonen has done both during and after her presidency,” says Tuomo Pesonen, Communications Director at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland who were the initiating force behind the Forgivemoji campaign.

Other organisers of the non-denominational Forgivemoji campaign included CMI Crisis Management Initiative, Clear Channel, PR agency Kaiku Helsinki, Finn Church Aid, the Deaconess Foundation, Felm, and Church in Helsinki.

Forgivemoji in your pocket in 2021?

The Forgivemoji campaign attracted major publicity in the international media. The story was picked up by BBC, The Guardian, and ABC Australia, among others. In social media the campaign reached more than two million people worldwide.

The campaign invited the public to send their own designs on what a forgiveness emoji should look like. From hundreds of submissions, former president Halonen chose a design which the campaign will next present to the Unicode organisation via an official emoji application. Criteria for new emoji include factors such as necessity, predicted usage frequency, and clarity.

Based on the application, the Unicode consortium will decide whether the Forgivemoji will be included as part of the official emoji selection which is updated annually. If the emoji passes Unicode’s criteria, different device manufacturers and service providers will first modify the design to fit their own use. The earliest possible date for the emoji to be available publically is in late 2021.

You can follow the next steps of the Forgivemoji campaign online at forgivemoji.com and on Twitter and Instagram through the handle @forgivemoji and the hashtag #forgivemoji.