How do these icons work: ✅️?

These characters are emojis that are recognized by the Unicode standards which defines what each character presents.

The exact look for them is different for each OS, and each application, but all depict the same thing.

The globe () is Unicode character 1F30F and is called EARTH GLOBE ASIA-AUSTRALIA. the 2nd one (✅) is called WHITE HEAVY CHECK MARK and is Unicode 2705.

In that manner, there are thousands of emojis, some that every application supports and some with less support. See complete list here

Firefox is using a special font for these emoji characters. It's employing a relatively new and otherwise rarely used feature of TrueType fonts: layered colour glyphs. Other than that (i.e. having a special font with pre-coloured glyphs) these icons are ordinary Unicode characters.

Windows has native support for these coloured fonts only in versions 8.1 and onwards, thus Firefox installs EmojiOne privately and uses its own font renderer for it in Windows 7. This also explains the absence of colourful emoji icons in most other applications.

In short: Firefox uses a font in which these symbols look the way they do.

These characters are a part of the Unicode Standard.

Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. Developed in conjunction with the Universal Coded Character Set (UCS) standard and published as The Unicode Standard, the latest version of Unicode contains a repertoire of more than 128,000 characters covering 135 modern and historic scripts, as well as multiple symbol sets. -Wikipedia

Thus, unlike ASCII (which had very few), Unicode contains several symbol sets. Now while it has been standardized on what code should represent what alphabet or symbol, Unicode does not exactly specify how the symbol should look like. Thus, all operating systems have their own sets of symbol graphics to look different. This may include some being colored and some being just outlines or black and white.

Also, it is also possible for fonts to have their own set of art for these symbols so that the characters can go with the feel of the application. Even inside the application, you may have different pages using different sets of images. Thus, you can interact with the character like you would otherwise, but it would just look different.

You can see how exactly emoji (for , skip to #1483) look on various platforms here.