The LA Times and other news organizations are now declaring these as "art." I have about as much respect for their opinion on this as I do on their coverage of this election and their creation of trump as a presidential candidate.
The design department at New York’s Museum of Modern Art has acquired everything from Tetris to the “@” symbol for its permanent collection. Now it has added a palette of emojis. “Emojis as a concept go back in the centuries, to ideograms, hieroglyphics and other graphic characters, enabling us to draw this beautiful arch that covers all of human history,” Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum tells The Times’ David Pierson. “There is nothing more modern than timeless concepts such as these.” Los Angeles Times