In Recent Years, Emojis Have Become Ubiquitous in Our Digital Communication
They can convey emotions, add emphasis, and make messages more fun and engaging. But could they also become a form of legal advice in the stock market?
The idea may sound far-fetched, but it’s not as outlandish as you might think. In fact, some experts believed that emojis could be used to send legal signals to investors; this belief has just become a reality.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversees the stock market and has strict rules about what companies can and cannot say to investors. Companies are required to disclose material information that might affect their stock price, and they must do so in a clear and understandable way. Now, the rocket ship emoji, stock chart, and money bag have just become legal advice, a federal court judge ruled:
A federal court judge ruled that these emojis 🚀📈💰objectively mean “one thing: a financial return on investment.” Users of these emojis are hereby warned of the legal consequence of their use. #emojis #rocketshipemoji #DapperLabs https://t.co/4yRfWBH96R
— Former SEC Branch Chief Lisa Braganca (@LisaBraganca) February 23, 2023
Traditionally, this has meant that companies issue dry, formal statements that are reviewed by lawyers and designed to avoid legal trouble. But what if companies could use emojis to convey the same information in a more engaging and relatable way?
Some argue that emojis could be used to signal important information to investors without running afoul of SEC regulations. For example, a company could use a rocket emoji to signal that it expects strong growth or a thumbs-down emoji to indicate a setback.
While it’s an interesting idea, there are many reasons to be cautious about relying on emojis for legal signals. For one, the meaning of emojis is often subjective and can be easily misinterpreted. Another might interpret what one person sees as a positive emoji as a negative one. This could lead to confusion and even legal disputes.Additionally, there’s no established legal precedent for using emojis this way. Companies that rely on emojis to convey critical information would be venturing into uncharted territory, and it’s unclear how the SEC would respond.
Regardless of your opinion, a United States District Court judge for the Southern District of New York just ruled that the emojis we listed above mean “a financial return on investment, ” according to a recent court filing in the stock market.
In the meantime, companies should continue relying on traditional communication forms when disclosing material information to investors. While emojis might be fun and engaging, they’re not a reliable way to communicate legal signals in the stock market, according to this legal judge.