Emoji’s in WordPress 4.2
Published March 22nd, 2015 under Plugins
Note: Nowhere in this post do I say that Automattic or Google are tracking anyone, just that they have the capability to do so if they want. Those companies have better things to do with their time than violate user trust. Many organisations choose to trust no one, and in that situation will want to remove any functionality which allows their visitors to be tracked.
Tracking of your WordPress websites visitors by Automattic Inc. has been possible since Gravatars were added to WordPress version 2.5 in 2008. This isn’t a big problem as those who don’t wish to allow them to track their site visitor scan simply disable Gravatars by turning them off in their admin panel.
Google fonts were also added in some of the newer default themes and in the admin panel, which gives Google the ability to track users using those themes or the WordPress admin panel. There is an excellent plugin for disabling Google Fonts in the admin panel, and not using the default themes prevents them being used on the front-end.
For WordPress 4.2, another potential point of tracking is present, in the form of externally hosted Emoji’s. So those of you who need to block external services from tracking your site visitors will need to disable this in your sites.
I couldn’t find any existing plugins which can disable the ability for Automattic, Inc. to track users, so I created a simple plugin to totally disable the Emoji functionality. For my personal blog, I don’t intend to use emoji’s anyway, so it made sense to remove everything, including the CSS and JS which they dumped into my sites front-end. It should be possible to keep the emoji functionality whilst still maintaining privacy and I hope someone creates a plugin for this purpose, but in the mean time I hope that my little plugin will be useful to some of you.