Emojis count as financial advice and have legal consequences, judge rules


A judge from the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York ruled that emojis like the rocket ship, stock chart and money bags mean “a financial return on investment,” according to a recent court filing. 

In a tweet, former United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) branch chief Lisa Braganca warned users of the potential legal consequence of their use of such emojis that may indicate future gains. She tweeted:

Braganca shared the link to a court filing where federal court judge Victor Marrero denied Dapper Labs’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint alleging that its NBA Top Shot Moments violated security laws

Tweets made by NBA Top Shot cited by the judge. Source: Court filing

Within the filing, the judge pointed out that some of the tweets published by the NBA Top Shot account on Twitter contain emojis that indicate financial returns. “And although the literal word ‘profit’ is not included in any of the Tweets, the ‘rocket ship’ emoji, ‘stock chart’ emoji, and ‘money bags’ emoji objectively mean one thing: a financial return on investment,” they wrote. 

Members of the crypto community reacted to the warning and tweeted various responses. One Twitter user described the news as “tragic,” while another pointed out that freedom of speech does not extend to emojis anymore. Meanwhile, a user decided to make a declaration on the meanings of their use of the emojis. 

A community member making a declaration on their emoji usage. Source: Twitter

On Feb. 23, lawyers also reacted to the judge’s decision of allowing the lawsuit against Dapper Labs to play out. U.S. attorney Jake Chervinsky pointed out that “it would be absurd” for a US court to consider assets on private blockchains as securities. Chervinsky explained that this can potentially turn every major video game developer, ticketing platform and travel rewards program into an SEC-regulated company. 

Related: SEC lawsuit against Paxos over BUSD baffles crypto community

In a similar manner, the manner in which the SEC went after Terra also captured the attention of lawyers. On Feb. 17, crypto lawyers went on Twitter to voice their thoughts on the issue of the SEC alleging that Terra sold a suite of crypto asset securities. Web3 lawyer Mike Selig explained that under the theory, anything can be a security, while attorney Justin Browder described the SEC’s actions as “wild.”