The cool kids at Facebook Inc.
are telling e-laughers everywhere that “haha” and emoji are in, and “lol” is out.
Facebook last week released a report analyzing how its users convey laughter. The way they expressed humor changed based on gender, age and geography. No joke: “lol” users are older than “haha” and “hehe” people. If you want to telegraph your youthful giggles, use an emoji.
“Haha” was the most popular choice, with more than half of all laughs, while emojis accounted for a third. It seems “lol” — the popular acronym for laugh out loud — is no longer hip. Only 1.9 percent of users are “lol”-ing, meaning the expression could soon be going the way of once popular phrases such as “rotfl” (rolling on the floor laughing) and “lmao” (laughing my a** off).
Tyler Schnoebelen, a linguist and head data scientist at Idibon, a language processing company, said he was surprised by how few people were “lolling.” But he said emoji usage was consistent.
“We’re at a near peak of the number of people using emoji right now,” he said. “It’s very much the current thing to do.”
Mr. Schnoebelen said the study was lacking one increasingly important laugh, even for English speakers: “jaja” or “jeje.” As the number of bilingual speakers increases in the U.S., he says the Spanish expression is used often with English text.
In a study it conducted two years ago of 9.2 million Tweets, Idibon found that people are loyal to the form of e-laughter they use. Idibon’s study focused on laughter that was repeated at least three times, such as “ha ha ha.”
Facebook’s post comes as the company is increasingly analyzing its massive trove of posts and comments to learn more about human behavior. Last week the company provided data about how users were responding to the first vice presidential debate.
For its study, Facebook looked at a week’s worth of posts and comments in May, scrubbed of identifying information, with at least one string of laughing characters. It identified laughing characters as “haha”, “hehe”, emoji and “lol”. The laugh study found 15 percent of people included laughter in a post or a comment.
“Haha” users appear to have more fun. They repeat the two-letter syllable more often than the others, such as “hahaha” and “hahahaha.” One sample Facebook detected had over 600 letters.
Men are more likely to “hehe” while women are more likely to “haha” or share an emoji, according to the data. Chicago and New York prefer emoji, but San Francisco and Seattle stick to “hahas.”
The company even brought the 2016 race into their “laughable” study. According to the data, southern states “lol” more, while “haha” and “hehe” win on the West Coast.
“Presidential campaigns, take note: the battleground states of Ohio and Virginia are haha states, while the candidates’ emoji games will surely be key in determining who emerges victorious in Florida,” the post said.