- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2014

The White House has removed emoji characters out of a newly published report after news outlets indicated that some millennials were offended by the administration’s latest technique to empathize with younger voters.

The report, “15 Economic Facts About Millennials” is styled as a Buzzfeed-like listicle, which have grown in popularity among younger generations for their quick delivery and humorous nature.

The White House sprinkled emojis throughout the report on college education and student debt, technology, and healthcare, published on Friday, but on Saturday the emojis were missing from the document.

“This is an example of what we heard about back in 2008, Obama using digital technologies to excite a new, younger demographic,” Natalia Mehlman-Petrzela, an assistant professor of history at the New School University, told The Atlantic on Friday. “In the world of Twitter and Instagram, millennials are using emojis more and more, so it makes sense to use that strategy to appeal to people.”

Emojis are not to be confused with emoticons, however. Emoticons, are the more primative use of text character combinations to form symbols, like (sic) :-) or :-(. Emojis, originally created for Apple devices, are pictures inserted into messages, downloaded through an app. Emojis are limited to the characters available in the app, while emoticons are endless.

Despite it’s efforts to connect with an audience obsessed with emojis, Ms. Mehlman Petrzela said that the White House could be inadvertently offending their target audience.

“I am most curious to see if this is something millennials find offensive or engage with it. I don’t think he is trying to say, ‘millennials don’t know how to read,’ or ‘this is the only way they can be reached,’ but I think a millennial could find this tremendously infantilizing,” she said. “And a lot of the data [in the report] suggests, based on the White House’s own conclusions, millennials are anything but unserious and anything but over-playful. They are more focused on their studies than other generations have been, more focused on their businesses, so one would think the White House would and does realize that the millennial generation is more than capable of reading, not just looking at cute pictures.”

Although the report used cutesy characters, not all of the details are upbeat. Student debt is on the rise and the unemployment rate remains elevated, according to the report.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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