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Summary:

Facebook users now swear in code. Over the last year the site’s status messages have contained remarkably fewer average curse words than in years past, according to stats the company released today, but far more instances of the acronym “FML.”

Facebook users now swear in code. Over the last year the site’s status messages have contained remarkably fewer average curse words than in years past, according to stats the company released today. Bombs of both the “f” and “s” variety saw their usage undergo among the biggest year-to-year drops of any word used in Facebook status messages. But at the same time, a new pseudo-swear rose to prominence: “FML.”

Facebook’s data team said its last big peak of “f***” came after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl in Feb. 2008. “With a slightly more mature crowd, we expect that there will be less cursing per capita,” says the blog post, which explains Facebook’s method of counting phrases as ratio of status updates and condensing them into subject areas. “And not only that, but if your mom is reading your FB status, you’d better watch your mouth.”

But that doesn’t mean Facebook users aren’t expressing their frustration using obscenity — they’re just doing it in abbreviated fashion. Facebook’s No. 2 gaining term or topic of the year, according to the post, was “FML” (No. 1 was anything related to farming, due to the popularity of FarmVille). The trendy acronym, popularized by the tragic stories on FMyLife.com and of an appropriate length for texting, tweeting and IMing, gave complainers a witty way to express their angst, however quotidian.

“FML” was most popular in May 2009, which Facebook hypothesizes had to do with rainy weather and students taking finals, and over the course of the year peaked each week on Tuesdays. Facebook doesn’t specify what countries it took the data from.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my bio.

  1. Of course let’s not forget the infinitely flexible new “EPIC FAIL!” term. I reckon I’ve been using that more in place of profanities laced with asterisks :)

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  2. Its funny because I recently purchased a book entitled ‘is: The Phenomenon of the Facebook Status’ were it presents an insight into everyday life in the 21st century through the medium of Facebook status updates, highlighting the joys and pressures of today’s world, giving a ‘warts ‘n’ all’ look into what we have become, as a society.

    Each individual status update listed within ‘is’ allows the watching world to look into the updating person’s soul as they share their thoughts and feelings of the day in a manner that has never before existed, giving a glance of what the person is made of, if not the image they are attempting to portray!

    It is one of my favourite books this year, and has been getting rave reviews online.

    http://www.amazon.com/Phenomenon-Facebook-Patrick-Hamilton-Walsh/dp/1604942290

    If you are reading this article then you will love this book.

    Thank me later

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  3. [...] Their Own Chat (techcrunch.com)Facebook reveals top status update terms of 2009 (telegraph.co.uk)Facebook Users Give Up Cursing, Use Shorthand Instead (gigaom.com)G-Star’s Use Of Social With Next Raw Reporter (viralblog.com)We Media: Mainstream [...]

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