Before Apple introduced its racially diverse emoji options back in 2015, people of color were used to using the ubiquitous skin tone from The Simpsons in our digital communications. Since then though, it’s become fairly standard practice to include multiple skin tone options for the desktop version of many sites we use—including the most popular work messaging app, Slack.
From your laptop, you can set your preferred default skin tone on Slack to make it easier and faster for everyday use. Just click on the emoji menu and look to the bottom-right hand corner. You should see a hand, and it’ll be Simpsons yellow by default. Click that hand and choose which of the six skin tones best represents your own. This global change will apply to all your skin tone-variable emoji going forward
Since your emoji skin choice is controlled by the operating system on your phone, you won’t see the same option on Slack for Android or iOS. As an iPhone user, I have to select a skin tone for each emoji, one by one, manually changing each as I happen to use them.
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Desktop versions of other popular services like Twitter and Facebook Messenger also have the option to change your emoji skin tone. On Twitter, you can choose your default skin tone by clicking the emoji menu and choosing your skin tone option on the bottom-right, similar to Slack; while on Facebook Messenger you need to click your Facebook Messenger profile on the upper-left hand corner, scroll down to the “Preferences” section, and click on “Emoji,” which will give you six skin tone options to choose from.
Once you change your preference, gone will be the days of the “standard” plastic yellow thumbs-up emoji. Set your default skin tone to match your real-life one, and feel free to take a quick peek in the settings of the other services you use if you’re interested in changing the default skin tone of your digital communications. It won’t work for the smileys themselves, which will maintain their cartoonish yellow—but your thumbs-up emoji, clasped hands, and fist-bump emoji, et al will represent who you are a little bit better.