Onna: Emoji in eDiscovery: What Legal Professionals Need to Know

Extract from Onna’s article “Emoji in eDiscovery: What Legal Professionals Need to Know”

That pondering face. The nauseated face. The laugh so hard you’re crying emoji. While emoji are not a new phenomenon, the rise in distanced collaboration has brought these tiny expressions to a usage all-time high as they provide a new means to communicate and build rapport online. One study even found that three out of four people prefer to send an emoji instead of words when dashing off a quick response. However, emoji usage isn’t the only thing on the rise.

We’re beginning to see an exponential increase in emoji as evidence in court cases. Not only is the need to discover emoji data presenting itself, but courts are increasingly requiring litigants to produce a greater variety of ESI far beyond the emoji — like private channel Slack messages and Zoom meeting recordings. But when it comes to emoji in eDiscovery, capturing this type of data presents unique interpretive and technical challenges every legal professional should be aware of.

The Interpretive Challenges of Emoji Ambiguity

Unlike spoken and written communication, drawing meaningful interpretations from emoji remains a challenge. It may not always be clear what a sender is attempting to communicate with their use of emoji, leaving the message open to interpretation by the recipient and in some cases — by the courts. 

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