Where does come from?
Officially called the Extraterrestial Alien emoji, it’s more popularly known as the alien emoji, or occasionally the ET emoji. It was first introduced in 2010 under Unicode 6.0 (U+1F47D).
The alien emoji 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 truth is out there….👽 https://t.co/W84ZBNOtFZ
— Brian😎 (@BrianGoodwin8) October 18, 2018
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; however, iOS version 8.2 displayed the alien-in-box emoji instead.
Who uses ?
The use of alien emoji has become an informal way in digital communication to denote that something or someone is strange, unusual, or out of place. This can be positive in nature (e.g., seeming preternaturally talented), or can express feelings of social, well, alienation.
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 extraterrestrial life, including popular fiction about them (e.g., The X-Files).
— Sabina (@_sabina_grace_) October 21, 2018