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‘Loudly Crying’ is now the most popular emoji on Twitter (no joke) 😭

If you spent lockdown wanting to loudly cry, the world's top emoji experts found evidence suggesting you weren't alone
There was a significant increase in Loudly Crying Face between March and April last year. "Emojis on Phone" by gfdnova1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The public mood has long been reflected by emojis, the catalogue of colourful icons we litter like punctuation through texts and tweets.

From hearing aids to period blood to tiny people taking selfies, the emoticons play a major role in our digital vocabularies.

Now after a year of lockdowns, emoji experts have identified Loudly Crying Face 😭 as the most-used icon on Twitter.

Studying 1.68 billion tweets posted between 2018 and 2021, the analysts at Emojipedia noticed a surge in its use between March and April 2020 – when many countries were first hit with Covid-19 restrictions – and Loudly Crying Face’s popularity has continued to soar ever since.

The open-mouthed-streams-of-tears icon knocked Face with Tears of Joy 😂 off the top spot for the first time ever. The crying-laughing emoji was already slowing down in popularity as Gen Z eschewed it as something for uncool millennials, but its decline became notably more rapid after April last year.

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The beginning of Loudly Crying Face’s ubiquity does align with a time when people the world over suddenly had a lot less to laugh about.

But Emojipedia deputy emoji officer Keith Broni warned it’s not as simple as communicating our sadness more often. 

The understood meaning of emojis, like words, evolves over time, and Loudly Crying Face is used by many to add a touch of light-hearted melodrama rather than to express earnest upset. 

In fact, as the analysts found, using it alongside the syringe emoji can indicate “the joy and relief of someone finally receiving one of the Covid-19 vaccinations”.

Loudly Crying Face’s rocketing popularity is likely down to a combination of many factors, not least its versatility. But twelve months into the world’s biggest crisis in living memory, it’s a fitting symbol of the year we spent firing off texts to people we missed.