Human Interest Twitter Launches New Emoji for Users to Express Gratitude — an Emotion on the Rise amid Pandemic Twitter revealed there was a 50 percent increase in the use of the praying hand emoji By Joelle Goldstein Joelle Goldstein Twitter Joelle Goldstein is a TV Staff Editor for PEOPLE Digital. She has been with the brand for nearly five years, beginning her time as a digital news writer, where she covered everything from entertainment news to crime stories and royal tours. Since then, she has worked as a writer-reporter on the Human Interest team and an associate editor on the TV team. In her current role, Joelle oversees all things TV and enjoys being able to say she has to watch The Kardashians and America's Got Talent for "work". Prior to joining PEOPLE, Joelle was employed at The Hollywood Reporter. She graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelors in Television-Radio (and an appearance in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Final Four!) People Editorial Guidelines Published on May 14, 2020 07:00 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Twitter's new gratitude emoji. Photo: Twitter They say a picture is worth a thousand words — but according to Twitter, so are certain emoji! This week, the social networking company announced that they were introducing a new emoji to represent gratitude amid the coronavirus pandemic. When users send out a tweet using #thankful, #gratitude or other variations of those words, the new emoji of hands making a heart with orange rays radiating from the top will appear alongside the hashtags. The emoji will also be applied if users tweet those phrases in languages other than English, according to Twitter. Twitter CEO Says Employees Can Work from Home 'Forever' — Even After Pandemic The idea for the emoji came about after Twitter said they noticed an increase in the use of the phrases "grateful" and "thankful for," especially when talking about medical personnel, grocery store employees, cleaning/sanitation workers, family and friends. Since March 15, around the same time that COVID-19 began to rapidly spread around the U.S. and cause state lockdowns, over 265 million tweets have been sent out using those words — a 37 percent growth in comparison to February's average. Twitter also noted that there was a 50 percent increase in the use of the praying hand emoji, as well as a 10 percent increase in the clapping hand emoji. "Who do we see people expressing that gratitude for? The most common word is 'everyone'," the company wrote in a May 12 tweet. "Everyone who is an essential worker. Everyone who has helped. Everyone in healthcare. Everyone who has reached out. Everyone." RELATED VIDEO: How a Canceled Event Inspired This Food Caterer to Give Back to Frontline Workers This isn't the first time that Twitter has praised the essential workers who are on the front lines amid the pandemic. In March, the company encouraged users to tweet hand-clapping emoji "for all the amazing healthcare workers around the world," in honor of World Health Day. They also tagged a number of celebrities, including Shakira, Mariah Carey, Sam Smith and Ellen DeGeneres, in a follow-up tweet to help "spread the gratitude" for the workers. As of Thursday, there have been more than 1.4 million cases and at least 85,438 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.