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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Wednesday, 19 September 2012 09:33 UK

Sam Leith on 30 years of emoticons


This week marks the 30th anniversary of the reported first use of the "emoticon", the keyboard characters used in text and other messages to denote a smiley face.

Sam Leith, a writer on online trends, explained that emoticons began as a way of "disambiguating" what was said online.

He told the Today programme that they started out as having a purpose but now "they've spread like knotweed".

"Sparingly is the way to use them," he advised.

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