Facebook Users Give Up Cursing, Use Shorthand Instead

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.

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