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Teenage codes make life difficult for Facebook’s ad algorithms

Laptop keyboardTeenage codes were originally designed for brevity because they took fewer keystrokes.  BRB takes much less work to type than “be right back.”  When texting became popular in the days when each number key had to serve for several letters, depending on how many times you pressed it, brevity came at a premium.  When messaging moved onto computer screens as well as mobile phones, teenage code became a useful way to conceal conversations from intrusive parents, so be careful buying some of the best laptop for a teenager, if you are a parent yourself.  PIR signifies “parent in room” and POS warns the friend of a “parent over shoulder.”  A great many of teenage codes are simply initials, some used to express feelings quickly, and some to look cool.  LOL does not mean “lots of love” but “laughing out loud.”

It is reported in research by Pew that teenage codes are now presenting a problem for Facebook’s targeted advertising, since they do not tell the would-be advertisers what the teenagers are really talking about, and therefore make it difficult to send them appropriate ads.  The report suggests that teenagers are using codes to protect their on line privacy.  There are dictionaries of teenage code such as Noslang.com, and they show that quite a few of the codes are used to convey swearing, with the F word featuring regularly.  LMFAO expresses the fact that someone is “laughing my f—ing a– off.”

I find the story quite amusing, in that teenagers are quite inventive in keeping outsiders from taking too much interest in what they say and do.  They want to share things with their peer group, and use slang words and codes to assert their membership of that group and to keep others out.  If that makes life difficult for advertisers, they should see what it does for parents.

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One Response

  1. It’s not just teenagers, I use, on a regular basis, one of the chat-rooms on IRC, where these abbreviations, and others, feature a lot. The average age is probably in the low 30s with the youngest no longer being a teenager. The oldest people involved in this particular room are pensioners or close to it!
    The abbreviation that I use most is LMDO (laughing my dentures out!).

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