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As of 2017, text messages are used by youth and adults for personal, family and social purposes and in business, government and non-governmental organizations for communication between colleagues.
As with emailing, in the 2010s, the sending of short informal messages has become an accepted part of many cultures.
This makes texting a quick and easy way to communicate with friends and colleagues, including in contexts where a phone call would be impolite or inappropriate (e.g., calling very late at night or when one knows the other person is busy with family or work activities).
Like e-mail and voice mail, and unlike landline or mobile phone calls (in which the caller hopes to speak directly with the recipient), texting does not require the caller and recipient to both be free at the same moment; this permits communication even between busy individuals.
It may simply be referred to as a "text" in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, an "SMS" in most of mainland Europe, or an "MMS" or "SMS" in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
The term originally referred to messages sent using the Short Message Service (SMS).
It has grown beyond alphanumeric text to include multimedia messages (known as MMS) containing digital images, videos, and sound content, as well as ideograms known as emoji (happy faces and other icons).
Almost every time, the messages contained fewer than 160 characters, thus giving the basis for the limit one could type via text messaging.
Under SS7, it is a "state" with a 160 character data, coded in the ITU-T "T.56" text format, that has a "sequence lead in" to determine different language codes, and may have special character codes that permits, for example, sending simple graphs as text.