Do Montanan’s Consider this Popular Emoji a Binding Contract?
Emojis are fun.
The creation of the emoji has revolutionized digital communication. In the late 1990s, Japanese engineer Shigetaka Kurita developed the first set of 176 emojis, explained the Toronto Public Library. Kurita was looking for a way to add emotional context to text messages, within the confines of a limited amount of text space.
Initially, these somewhat crudely shaped icons were limited to basic emotions and objects. However, with the rise of smartphones and social media, emojis quickly gained popularity worldwide. UNICODE standardized emojis a decade after they were first used and today, emojis have evolved into a diverse collection of over 3,000 symbols.
A Canadian farmer found out the hard way about emojis.
CNN reported last week about a Saskatchewan farmer who was corresponding via text with his grain buyer regarding a contract for flax. Long story short, the farmer used the thumbs-up emoji when the grain buyer offered him a contract for $17 a bushel. By the time harvest season rolled around, flax prices had climbed to $41 a bushel.
The farmer tried to back out of the agreement, stating that the emoji he used was meant to verify that he received the contract, but he was expecting to get the paperwork at a later date and would physically or e-sign it then. The buyer disagreed. The dispute went to court and a judge ruled in favor of the grain buyer. The farmer was ordered to pay $82,000 in damages.
Are emojis appropriate for work or business?
Perhaps it depends on what type of work you do. In casual, interoffice communication emojis seem to be largely accepted. A smiley face or LOL emoji can be a quick, effective way to denote inflection in a sentence. A thumbs-up emoji is a quick way to respond to a Teams message or to confirm you received a text message.
Most professional correspondence should probably avoid emojis, according to Business.com. I mean, how would you feel if your bank, lawyer, or VP of the company used a bunch of goofy emoticons in their correspondence? And, based on this recent case about a grain contract, you may want to be cautious with the thumbs-up emoji if you're negotiating a deal via text or messages.