What The "Eye In A Speech Bubble" Emoji Means & How It's Stopping Cyberbullies — VIDEO

For a few days now, people have been wondering what the "eye in a speech bubble" emoji means after it came out with the newest iOS 9.2 update — and the good news is that we finally have our answer. Turns out, Apple designed the "eye in a speech bubble" to help fight cyberbullying by giving teens who witness bullying a way to say they see what's going on and they don't approve. It's part of Ad Council's #IAmAWitness campaign, which launched this week, so basically the answer to this mystery is even cooler than we might have expected.

As digital spaces become a bigger and bigger part of our lives, it's unsurprising that more and more bullying would take a technological bent, too. According to the CDC, 15 percent of high school students report having experienced cyber bullying in the past year. Cyberbullying is also often public, posted on social media or other public forums, but many students worry about speaking out against examples they see for fear of becoming targets or because of social pressure to stay quiet.

"If we were really going to connect with teens, we had to do it in a way and a language they totally understood," Ad Council president and CEO Lisa Sherman told Mashable. "We think the emoji actually gives teens something to say when they don’t know what to say."

Their goal, as Sherman explained to Mashable, was to create communities of people who could point out bullying and support one another, as can be seen in this video promoting their campaign.

Ad Council on YouTube

The campaign also has an app that includes more emoji options, including eyes of various colors (including rainbow) and messages like "Don't Listen" and "[I] See Bullying." And it's also free.

So will emoji make a difference in cyber bullying? Well, it depends whether or not they catch on or not. If teens actually know about the emoji and use it, then it could become a powerful way both of calling out bullying by simply labeling it as bullying and of supporting victims by making it clear the behavior isn't OK.

And there's a decent chance it will catch on — teens might not be the most willing to adopt things that adults suggest to them, but the emoji does provide a convenient, low stakes way to address bullying. While telling someone their behavior is wrong might get a lot of pushback, it's much harder to argue with an emoji.

Hopefully the new emoji does catch on and is able to have a positive impact for teens. And at the very least, the mystery is now solved.

Image: YouTube