When it comes to locking in users to your product or service companies tend to use all available differentiators. A while ago I mentioned Google's recent transition from their blob emojis which many call a mistake and ask at least to let the users decide which emojis to use. Which obviously would never happen 😀
As for deciding for the users, emoji-wise another thing happened this week as well, now with Facebook. They had their emojis for a while now, but with the option to dig deep into settings in order for you to switch to your beloved emojis which were coming with your device. But now Facebook flipped the switch and at least on the main website/app you will see smiley faces redesigned by them. Messenger still behaves like before, but I don't think that's for long.
It may sound minor - who cares which emojis are on facebook.com but keep in mind Facebook is used regularly by 2.2 billion users, it's Messenger has 1.3 billion, Instagram (owned by FB) recently also hit its first billion, which in total have almost as many users as Apple and Google combined. With that userbase Facebook puts it's leg onto the emoji scene to be recognized as the primary emoji provider in the world. And when they flip switches in Instagram, Messenger and not less important WhatsApp, people will get mad, but they won't have to go elsewhere - Facebook is that big. And forcing everyone use their emojis and eventually getting used to them will unconsciously lock people into Facebook's platform and will make people dissatisfied with other social networks that don't use familiar smilies they see everyday browsing Facebook's news feed or chatting in Messenger. Like with iMessage where people are actually ashamed being 'the one with the green bubble', Facebook creates a mental barrier for people to dislike other means of conversations (messengers, social networks) where you won't have access to the 'norm' thoughtfully declared by Facebook. And being 'main' and 'primary' allows them to reach new all-time high stock prices despite the privacy controversies. So it's just a bit more than emojis 😉