Microsoft has stripped Skype of a small number of emojis, which are digital ideograms or "smileys", after community managers worried that they were potentially offensive to its users.
The changes were made over a month ago with the release of Skype 6.14, but the service's users are now mobilising to protest against the decision. Skype message boards and forums are filled with complaints from users who believe that the emoji update is curtailing their rights to express themselves in the name of "political correctness" and "sensitivity."
The offensive emoticons that were removed include a smiley face flipping the viewer "the finger" and, bizarrely, a pair of women's legs wearing high heels – reportedly an Easter egg emoji related to former Skype CEO's personal assistant, Stella Hollest.
In particular, many users are raising their eyebrows because Skype has kept a number of emoticons that could easily fall into the offensive bracket. These include a man mooning the camera, a smiley face puffing on a cigarette and another googly-eyed fellow who is clearly drunk.
Still, Skype is aiming to turn frowns upside down with the introduction of new and inoffensive icons. These include a defecating sheep and a saluting Captain America – just type in (sheep) and (shielddeflect) respectively.
Skype was launched more than ten years ago, being bought my Microsoft in 2011 and eventually replacing the out-dated Windows Live Messenger service all together in 2013.