Emojis in Parties’ Online Communication During the 2019 European Election Campaign: Toward a Typology of Political Emoji Use

Anna-Katharina Wurst, Katharina Pohl, Jörg Haßler, Daniel Jackson


Emojis have become ubiquitous in digital communication, but we know relatively little about how they are used in political and campaigning contexts. To address this deficit, we analyze the use of emojis in the Facebook communication of parties in 11 European countries during the 2019 European election campaign. Results indicate that the use of emojis by political parties differs significantly from general online communication. Political parties more often use neutral and representational (such as flags) emojis than emotional and facial emojis to draw users’ attention while maintaining a serious appearance of their content. Based on our empirical results, we develop a typology to characterize the mixture of generic and unique functions of emojis used in political communication, outlining how they are used for (1) attracting attention, (2) visual structuring, (3) mobilizing, (4) promoting, (5), referring to political levels, (6) emphasizing policies/values, and (7) displaying affect/emotion.


emoji, social media, campaign communication, European election, Facebook

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