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Opera browser integrates Yats for emoji web addresses

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The humble browser address bar just got an emoji-forward glow up.

Opera announced Monday that it has fully integrated with Yat, an emoji-based identification system that involves people buying and selling emoji. The latest version of the Chromium-based browser now lets users enter emoji in place of standard domains in the web address bar.

If the string of emoji corresponds to an existing Yat, the browser will take users to the associated website. For example, instead of typing out the URL of digital asset management firm Arrington XRP Capital, an Opera user could, if so inclined, enter 🚀🌕 into their web address bar.

“All Opera browsers have, in partnership with @whatsyouryat, become the first and only web browsers to enable emoji-only based web addresses,” wrote Opera. “Give it a try by visiting ⛓🕸👀!”

How does any of this work? Well, Opera’s desktop web browser essentially now integrates with Yat’s API.

That people can even buy emoji in the first place might come as a surprise, but Yats aren’t themselves new (and to be clear: Yat users are paying to have Yat, a Nashville-based private company, associate them with its emoji; and crucially not claiming the emoji as their own in any context that doesn’t involve Yat or the Yat API). Emoji strings have sold from anywhere from a few dollars to, in rare cases, hundreds of thousands. And, since July of 2021, people have been able to use emoji in the web address bar of the mobile Opera Browser on Android and iOS.

Making this available on the desktop version of Opera shows that Yat is serious about expanding the use case for its emoji identifiers. We reached out to the company to see if it has plans to work with other browsers (perhaps ones with larger market shares), but received no immediate response.

While emoji web addresses might seem “fun,” security experts might understandably raise an eyebrow at the idea of replacing traditional web addresses with emoji. After all, scammers have long used lookalike web addresses to trick people into entering, say, their banking details into a hacker-controlled website. Won’t emoji in the place of standard web addresses make that easier?

Maybe. Yat has thankfully given this issue at least some thought, and its API documentation details how it hopes to prevent these types of attacks. A lot of that prevention has to do with being intentional about what emoji were included, and which were excluded.

“10% of men are colorblind so color is a phishing attack vector,” it explains in one specific example. “For example, we included ❤️. So we should exclude other colors like 💙 and 💜.”

As to whether or not any of this will take off, we can only say: 🤷❓

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