The worst thing about Donald Trump Jr.’s emails is the specificity within them. On Tuesday, Trump’s oldest son published his emails (so that The New York Times wouldn’t do it first) between him and his friend who was serving as a median between the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who had connections to the Russian government. In the emails, it appears Trump Jr. was offered Moscow’s assistance in getting his father into the White House. He responded to the offer saying, “if it’s what you say I love it…” Hmmmm…
From Hillary Clinton to the Trump administration, emails seem to stir the pot on many political aspects. Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times said “It preserves time, location and state of mind.” while talking about emails. The accessibility of “private” emails may serve as a step towards improving the integrity of American democracy in that there will be less back door deals and secrets being exchanged, because of the high chances of the information being leaked.
Colin Daileda of Mashable wrote, “What happens when, perhaps sooner than we think, the next text-based scandal breaks and leaves Americans deciphering a slew of Slack messages full of emoji? What if, instead of writing, “I love it,” Trump Jr. had just responded with a heart? How would Americans interpret that?”
While it sounds childish, it brings about a very strong point. As private information becomes more available, secrecy within messages will undoubtedly become a new obstacle.
A similar situation has already been taken to court in New York City in 2015. Police went to court over the use of a gun emoji with a teenager. A 17 year old was charged with making terroristic threats after posting statuses with a gun emoji pointed at a police officer emoji. The teen’s lawyer called the charges irrational saying there was no proof he wasn’t just pressing pictures instead of making actual threats. Now just imagine if one of Trump Jr.s emails had ended with a gun emoji and a country’s flag emoji. All hell would break loose over the difficult to interpret meaning.
What happens if future leaks of potentially incriminating documents are being deciphered innocent vs guilty in regards to interpretation? There is no absolute way to determine intentions, and this could become a very dangerous subject.
“If [Trump Jr.] would have just put a bunch of very happy sounding emojis, how would it have gone in The New York Times?” said Bradley Shear, a lawyer with expertise in social media law. “I mean, what would they have said? That’s the big question.” Yes that is big question, with unlimited answers.
Daileda continues, “Shear thinks we’ll have to figure out ‘what things mean’ as a society. How do we interpret a heart emoji? A gun emoji? A smiley face? If Trump Jr. had responded to the news of possible Russian government assistance with a champagne bottle emoji, is that definitively positive? Somehow sarcastic? ”
America’s current political state makes one thing very clear: if a consensus is based on ’emoji interpretation’ then many aspects of justice will be abandoned. The interpretation of the message will be based off whoever is presiding the investigation. Just think about all the biased verdicts to come.
Bradley Shear elaborated on this saying,
“Pictures and emoticons, they mean something slightly different depending on who’s using them,” “It will come down to the interpretation of the fact finder, whether it’s a judge or a jury.”