In just two short years one emoji has captured our imaginations like no other.

Of every 100 tweets sent in April 2020, one of them contained a relative-newcomer on the emoji scene: πŸ₯Ί Pleading Face.

A recent Emojipedia analysis of 68 million tweets saw no Covid slowdown on the ever-increasing use of πŸ₯Ί, with tweets containing this emoji increasing considerably from mid 2019 to early 2020 and showing no signs of stopping.

This emoji is now the third most used emoji on Twitter.

πŸ˜‚ Face with Tears of Joy remains the most used emoji on Twitter, as well as pretty much all social and messaging platforms now, and over the past six years.

The much younger and wider-eyed Pleading Face could topple the divisive laughing-crying emoji as soon as next year if current trends continue.

Pleading Face was used in 0.98% (just under 1%) of all tweets analyzed by Emojipedia in a 10 day window of April 2020. That figure isn't just for tweets that include at least one emoji, it is across all tweets. i.e. across a random sample of 100 tweets on Twitter, on average one (0.98%) will include this emoji: πŸ₯Ί

By comparison, another emoji approved as part of the same Emoji 11.0 release is πŸ₯° Smiling Face with Hearts. This loving face had a similar start to Pleading Face in 2018 but has since plateaued and in April 2020 appeared in under half of one percent (0.40%) of all tweets.

While we are here it's also worth calling out 😭 Loudly Crying Face which is also increasing in use, against the somewhat stagnant πŸ˜‚ Face with Tears of Joy. A testament to the wide range of uses 😭 can stand for.

πŸ₯Ί Pleading Face? I don't know her.

Approved in early 2018 and only becoming available on a majority of phones in late 2018, this is a sharp rise in use for such a newcomer.

Pleading Face is so new that many phones purchased just a few years ago won't even have access to this emoji.

Yet here we are in 2020 readying the throne for our new emoji king.

Above: Cross-platform comparison of πŸ₯Ί Pleading Face. Image: Vendors / Emojipedia composite.

The entry for Pleading Face on Emojipedia reads:

A yellow face with furrowed eyebrows, a small frown, and large, β€œpuppy dog” eyes, as if begging or pleading. May also represent adoration or feeling touched by a loving gesture.

What is the allure of this face? A few points come to mind:

  • Overtly expressive emojis are popular. Like GIFs that often over-react to a situation for comedic or emotional effect, emojis can fill a similar role.
  • Pleading Face also fills an ambiguity gap. Is it shy? Sad? Sorry? Flirty? All of the above. If you want to be flirty but with plausible deniability, this is the one for you.
  • Pair πŸ₯Ί with πŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆ and you have an absolute hit, as very often seen alongside comments on TikTok β€œwon't simp, must not simp πŸ₯ΊπŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆβ€

Here's our pal Lil Nas X with a text-based meme circulating on Twitter earlier in the year, also combining πŸ₯Ί with πŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆ:

People love Pleading Face. It is cute, flexible, and seems to convey a vibe quite distinct from other emojis.

Which leaves one remaining question.

πŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆ But is it Horny?

Is a final explanation for the rise of this emoji that everyone is getting horny on main? Follow Emojipedia After Dark and you might be forgiven for thinking so. You might also notice the frequency in which πŸ₯Ί pops up in NSFW tweets.

While Pleading Face is somewhat suggestive, any emoji can be horny if you try hard enough. And people sure are trying.