Monthly Archives: November 2015

Courts struggle to sort out meanings of emoticons and emoji

Courts struggle to sort out meanings of emoticons and emoji by ABA Senior Writer, Debra Cassens Weiss 

Keyboard-crafted emoticons and digital emoji are becoming an issue in court cases, where judges are asked to decide whether the symbols affect the meaning of texts and emails.

Emoticons such as “;-P” denoting a stuck-out tongue and “;)” denoting a wink are particularly tricky for courts, Slate reports in a story noted by Above the Law. Slate summarizes several cases, including these:

  • A University of Michigan law student sued a female classmate who reported he was stalking and harassing her, along with the school and police for launching an investigation. No charges were ever brought. He argued his texts to a friend saying he wanted to make the classmate “feel crappy” and experience depression shouldn’t have been taken seriously, in part because he used an emoticon indicating a stuck-out tongue. A federal judge in Michigan found the emoticon didn’t materially alter the meaning of the text.
  • In August, a Delaware judge interpreted a winking emoticon used in a text in which a man boasted about surprising a woman by purchasing a plane ticket so he could be seated next to her on a flight to Paris. The man said the wink showed he was joking; the judge said the emoticon showed he was amused by the opportunity to harass the woman.
  • A Michigan appeals court ruled last year that a post to an online message board about corruption wasn’t defamatory because it included a tongue-out emoji, indicating the post was a joke.

Read the entire article here.


Expand your horizons with the World Digital Library!

The World Digital Library is an international digital library operated by UNESCO and the United States Library Congress.

The World Digital Library promotes international and intercultural understanding, expands the volume and variety of cultural content on the internet, provides resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences, and builds capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and among countries.

Check it out here.

Election 2015 Highlights: Who Won? Who Lost?

With no presidential election or congressional seats on the line, Tuesday’s election watchers were focused on some high-profile ballot initiatives, a governor race in Kentucky and a handful of other races. Here are some of the highlights, compiled from the Journal’s reports across the country:

San Francisco Defeats ‘Airbnb Initiative’

San Francisco voters rejected a ballot measure that would have limited short-term housing rentals to 75 nights a year, a victory for Airbnb Inc., which waged a sophisticated political campaign to defeat it. Proposition F, dubbed the “Airbnb Initiative,” underscored the class tensions roiling San Francisco as a technology boom contributes to rising housing prices in the city. Airbnb, based in San Francisco, deployed veteran field organizers and hundreds of volunteers to defeat the measure, outraising backers 18-1 with an $8 million effort, according to campaign filings.

Bevin Wins Kentucky Governor Race

Republican Matt Bevin won a bitterly fought race for Kentucky governor Tuesday, handing the GOP a coveted seat that extends its hold on the South and imperiling the state’s closely watched implementation of the federal health law. The race between Mr. Bevin, a 48-year-old businessman, and Democrat Jack Conway, the 46-year-old state attorney general, was the most high-profile of three gubernatorial contests this year. The candidates were vying to succeed Gov. Steve Beshear, a popular Democrat who was barred by law from running for a third term. In another race, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi easily won re-election against Democrat Robert Gray, a little-known truck driver.

Houston Gay Rights Vote

In a victory for social conservatives, voters in Houston overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure to extend nondiscrimination protections to gay and transgender people. Known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, the measure would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race and a dozen other categories. It was backed heavily by Houston Mayor Annise Parker and a cadre of national Democratic political figures, and proponents poured more than $3 million into the push to pass it.

Ohio Rejects Marijuana Measure

Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical uses, dealing a blow to pot industry investors looking to build on a series of ballot victories across the country. The Ohio marijuana measure has been controversial from the start, and not just because it was trying to legalize marijuana in the Midwest. Local investors in the pot industry were behind the ballot initiative, spending more than $20 million to collect signatures to force a statewide vote and then funding the campaign to try to win its passage.

Comeback in Bridgeport, Conn.

Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, who spent seven years in prison after he was convicted on corruption charges, was returned to office Tuesday, completing a stunning political comeback in the state’s most populous city. The 56-year old Democrat beat six opponents. He was the front-runner in the mayoral race, having secured the endorsement of the local Democratic Party and winning a a three-way primary in September.

Read the full articles here.