Where does come from?
Officially called the Extraterrestial Alien, the emoji more popularly goes by alien and occasionally ET. It was first introduced in 2010 under Unicode 6.0 (U+1F47D).
The alien varies slightly across different platforms. For iOS, Facebook, and Twitter users, it appears as a classic grey alien with large, oval eyes, while Android devices tend to depict the alien as green. Many versions even feature a friendly smile, which can soften the tonal impact of the usage.
The emoji caused mass confusion upon release due to a glitch in iOS version 8.2. Users who neglected to update their iPhones began receiving a strange variant of alien emoji, seemingly trapped inside a small box.
Theories ran rampant about its true meaning, but the alien-in-box emoji was actually an error message of sorts. When a phone’s operating system isn’t updated with the latest Unicode release, it displays a placeholder image for unknown emoji. In the past, these placeholders have been simple black or white squares. But, for whatever reason, iOS version 8.2 displayed the alien-in-box emoji instead. Humorously, some users felt affection toward the unofficial glitch-version of alien emoji.
Who uses ?
The use of alien emoji has become an informal way in digital communication to mark something or someone as strange, unusual, or out of place . . . sometimes in a positive manner (e.g., seeming preternaturally talented). People may also use the emoji to express feelings of social alienation.
Alien emoji shares a strange connection with popular electronic musician Skrillex. The dubstep producer released his debut album Recess in 2014 with artwork featuring an alien. Since then, fans on Twitter have regularly bombarded Skrillex with the alien emoji, which shares a striking resemblance to the one on his album cover.
The emoji has also been used in the ongoing debate over immigration in the United States. In many cases, it’s been used pejoratively as a way of expressing disdain for undocumented immigrants. Others have reclaimed the emoji, however, to identify themselves as an immigrant or to express support for causes like DACA.
More literally, the alien emoji is often used to punctuate social-media posts concerning the search for extraterrestial life, including popular fiction about them (e.g., The X-Files).
The alien emoji is not to be confused with the alien monster emoji (U+1F47E), often used to denote arcade games and 1980s culture or nostalgia as well as to express a kind of affectionate weirdness.
James Wiseman is from ANOTHER PLANET 👽 @BigTicket_JW
@Overtime, January 2018
Use the Hashtag #HappyBirthdaySkrillex, let’s make it trend 👽 @SkrillexNike
@theskrillexgang, January 2018
On Friday, Dec. 29, Kendall posted a sultry AF bathroom selfie (because seriously, who doesn't do that on a regular basis... am I right?). She added a short and simple caption, "loner life," with an alien emoji.
Lizzy Rosenberg, Elite Daily, January 2018