Apple has released over 100 new emojis in its latest iOS 9.1 update, with one mysterious eye emoji standing out from the rest. While it looks like the classic symbol for Big Brother, it’s actually the icon of an anti-bullying campaign.
The eye emoji has found its way to Apple keyboards as part of an initiative called I Am A Witness. The enterprise was founded by the Ad Council, a not-for-profit group which produces campaigns for public causes. The symbol is meant to represent vigilance and awareness, sending out a message of support and simultaneously reminding a bully that others are watching.
It’s intended to be used as a way to call out vicious comments and harassment, essentially lending a hand to victims who often do not get enough support through social media platforms. Ad Council CEO Lisa Sherman told Mashable that she hopes the eye emoji turns passive groups of bystanders to active participants who speak out against bullying.
The I Am A Witness movement was brought about as a joint venture between Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Johnson & Johnson, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and Adobe. The tech companies in the list have been criticized before for not doing enough to help people stop or report online oppression. The new initiative offers a simple approach to the problem.
Other than the black and white eye emoji, iOS 9.1 comes with various other emoticons including animals such as the unicorn and dove, in addition to sports like badminton and cricket. It even has new hand gestures in the form of a Vulcan salute and a middle finger. The software upgrade further brings new wallpapers and support for Live Photos.
The Ad Council also has an I Am A Witness app for Apple and Android users. It contains a downloadable keyboard with colorful variants of the eye emoji, stickers saying ‘Stay Cool’ and GIFs.