The problem appeared to be exclusive to Apple devices. Nonetheless, the employee, who works as a product integrity program manager for Instagram, felt that it perpetuated anti-Asian stereotypes and needed to be addressed.
“How are the emoji’s being recommended in this and can we remove this so this doesn’t perpetuate Asian racial stereotypes?” the employee asked. “I’ve tested this with three of my family members and it shows up for them.”
In October 2019, a Twitter user looking for “cute little dog gifs on Instagram” noticed the takeout box emoji in their search results.
“Why did I search up dog on @instagram and Chinese food comes up?” user @Cami_Uke wrote.
Ahead of the emoji’s removal, BuzzFeed News performed tests on Apple devices. While looking for emojis to add to Instagram Stories, it was noted that the takeout box emoji was one of the seven search results for the word “dog.”
Shortly after the news made rounds, Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, explained on Twitter that the emoji was associated with the term “doggy bag.” One user also noted that takeout boxes are actually called “doggie bags” in South Africa because “you take scraps home to feed your pets.”
A representative of Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, first told BuzzFeed that they had removed the emoji from all search results. “We’ve removed the emoji from appearing in this search and are investigating what led to this so we can take steps to keep it from happening again,” they said.
Mosseri also apologized for offending people. “We have since removed that search term and we apologize that it was misconstrued, and to anyone we offended,” he tweeted.
NextShark performed a similar test on Apple devices. As of this writing, the Chinese takeout box emoji has indeed been removed from “dog” search results.
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