Don’t expect to see new flags in your phone’s emoji any time soon. The Unicode Consortium has warned it will “no longer accept proposals” for flag emoji, regardless of category. They’re more trouble than they’re worth, the organization said, whether it’s the inherent politics or the value they bring.
The Consortium noted that flag additions tend to “emphasize the exclusion of others.” If the emoji team added regional flags for one country, for instance, it would highlight the lack of regional flags for other countries. Moreover, Unicode can’t remove a character once added — while it can update emoji, it’s hesitant to add a flag that might not last long.
Usage was also a major concern. Flags are “by far” the least-used emoji, Unicode said, and aren’t even used that often in social media bios. The Consortium is trying to limit the number of emoji it adds each year, and there isn’t much incentive to add flags that won’t see widespread adoption. In some cases, such as for additional LGBTQ flags, the outfit also believed its standard was “not an effective mechanism” for recognition and was expanding heart colors to help people take pride in their identities without using flags.
This doesn’t mean you’ll never see flags again. Flags are automatically recommended for any country with a Unicode region code (that is, recognized by the United Nations). For now, though, the flags you see will be fixed unless there are significant political upheavals.