We have used emojis to express various facial reactions and they are inspired by real life reactions from people. However, it seems like Facebook wants to take this to the next level thanks to a patent filed by the company.
The abstract in the patent describes the feature in action:
A computing device receives input from a user participating in a message session. The computing device detects an emoticon in the received input and identifies an image corresponding to the emoticon. The computing device accesses the image corresponding to the emoticon and replaces the emoticon with the image in the message session.
This is clearly shown by the next two screenshots taken from the patent document. The person types the 🙂 emoticon after the word “great” and afterwards it is replaced with a photo emoji
The system seems to be employing some sort of advanced AI that includes facial recognition and character recognition of some kind. If employed, this would lead to a situation where people will upload photos of themselves displaying various reactions so that the software is able to replace it effectively.
Currently, Facebook has its own emoji, effectively named “Reactions” which are an extension of the like button so that people can comment to your post using the appropriate reaction. They also added a Mothers Day special reaction emoji to commemorate the day which brought about the idea of having special emojis for certain events.