Facebook to Learn New Slang Before the Cool Kids

It filed a patent for a 'social glossary' last month
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2016 7:41 PM CST
Facebook to Learn New Slang Before the Cool Kids
Facebook wants to be able to identify new slang words before they're played out.   (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

Facebook just patented something that could help all the parents on Facebook finally understand what their kids are saying, Business Insider reports. The social media company was granted a patent for a "social glossary" in February, and the patent filing was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, according to Newsweek. Facebook's social glossary would be maintained by software that scans posts and messages for neologisms, then adds or removes them as they become more or less used. Or as the Verge simplifies: "The software will attempt to predict slang before it becomes popular."

The software will look for sudden repetitions of words without a known meaning among Facebook users who share similar traits, such as location or language. Newsweek points out this kind of anthropological survey would be far more difficult in a pre-Facebook world, where researchers would have to continuously reach out to different groups across many demographics to figure out what new words they're using. The patent filing states the software would have been able to identify terms like "rickrolled" and "blogger" before they became commonplace. It's not clear what Facebook would use its social glossary for, though Business Insider believes it could be used to expand Facebook's predictive text program beyond words in the dictionary. (More Facebook stories.)

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