a.k.a. emojicons, humoticons, graphical smileys
Most commonly used in instant messaging programs like Yahoo IM, MSN IM, AIM and ICQ (as someone's profile), they are also widely seen in e-mail messages using Web-based e-mail programs. Because this kind of "graphical" smiley is not original, authentic, or genuine to the original emoticon, understand that the majority of online users DO NOT LIKE IT and consider graphical smileys to be annoying eye candy.
A "humoticon" is yet another variation on the emoticon, this time by Skype trying to integrate the emoticon's more humanistic counterpart: you.
Emojis were originally developed by Shigetaka Kurita, who engineered the expressive reaction faces around the time Windows 95 first began taking off in Japan. In 2010, they were added to the Unicode Standard in other countries, including the United States.
NetLingo Classification: Online Jargon