WordPress has recently (5.4? 5.5? 🤔) started the annoying practice of replacing some Unicode characters (especially emojis) with images.

Now, instead of always showing text characters, emojis are getting replaced by images. That is, if the text is foo👍bar, the thumbs-up character gets replaced with an img tag with the alt attribute of "👍", so the string:


gets replaced with:

foo<img draggable="false" role="img" class="emoji" alt="👍" src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/13.0.0/svg/1f44d.svg">bar

🤦 This is incredibly frustrating for a lot of reasons:

  1. It breaks the text up.
  2. It turns searchable text into non-searchable images.
  3. It drastically increases the size.
  4. It requires pulling external resources which requires more bandwidth, CPU, and memory.
  5. It prevents them from being styled with CSS. You cannot apply things like colors to images like you can with text, (yes, even emojis can be colored).
  6. Other issues…

I checked to make sure this unwanted behavior isn't a consequence of any plugins I'm using, and it's definitely not. Something in a recent update to WordPress (5.4 or 5.5) began this behavior.

I did a web-search for "prevent wordpress from replacing emojis with images" and there's absolutely nothing. 😕 I did manage to fine one SO post that was almost similar, but the suggestion to add a variation-selector character after the emoji didn't work, WordPress still replaces it with an image. I also checked the release notes for the past couple of minor versions and didn't see anything either.

How can I get WordPress to knock it off?

  • Hmm, this is very strange. The feature mentioned in the other question was introduced in WP 4.2, but I didn't have a problem with it until just this week, and I've been using WP 5.5 since it was released. 🤨 Because of that, I assumed it must be a different issue, but sure enough, installing the Disable Emojis plugin fixed it. Curiouser and curiouser. 🤔 Oh well, at least it's fixed. 🤷 (This is yet another example of how updates are not always a good thing. ¬_¬) – Synetech Aug 28 '20 at 16:43

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