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Facebook Publishes Report On Expressions Of Online Laughter

August 8, 2015 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

Of all the data tech-companies are believed to keep a tab on, this one probably takes the cake. Online social networking giant Facebook has apparently done a bonafide research on the various acronyms, abbreviations and expressions people use during online interactions to express amusement, and published a whole report titled “The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter”. The report reveals what Facebook believes are the most used forms of expressions to denote amusement online according to data gleaned from the posts of its users. The company says that the first time it even gave any thought to the topic was when a reporter with New Yorker magazine, Ms. Sarah Larson, wrote a curiously titled article in the aforesaid publication, called “HAHAHA vs HEHEHE”. Not unexpectedly, that grabbed the attention of the powers-that-be at Facebook, and the social media giant started looking for hard data to either corroborate or disprove Ms. Larson’s claims and assertions from anecdotal evidence.

To do that, Facebook says it analyzed posts and user comments on its website from the last week of May that “contained at least one string of characters matching laughter” to come to its conclusion that ‘Haha’ and other forms of it significantly outperforms ‘Lol’ although, there’s an up and coming challenger to ‘Haha’s domain called ‘Hehe’ (includes ‘hehehe’ and other similar descriptive). The results, which have been published as a pie-chart, seem to indicate that about 15 percent of netizens use any forms of e-laughter during their online interactions and ‘Lol’ is used by only 1.9 percent of them. Over half the people (51.4 percent) express their amusement by using either ‘Haha’ or ‘Hahaha’, while over 13 percent use ‘Hehe’ or some form of it. 33 percent of users meanwhile, seem to prefer emoticons to express their hilarity.

Coming to Facebook’s data analysis methodology, the company says it doesn’t snoop in on private Messenger chats, so the data it accumulated is strictly based on public posts on its website. Anyways, the company also broke down the data further, based on a number of factors like the length of the e-laughters, the gender of people posting these messages, the geographic locations and age of people who believe in expressing their mirth through e-laughter. The ‘research’ determined that both men and women use these expressions in almost equal measure, with men ever so slightly preferring ‘haha’ and ‘hehe’ to emojis, whereas ‘Lols’ are comparatively universal, even though there are a few more women than men using the expression. Emojis were also found to be used by the comparatively younger lot, while older people seem to prefer the written options rather than pictographic expressions. Curiously, one particular version of ‘haha’ seemed to include over 600 letters. Facebook says their “automatic regular expression parser gave up after trying to get through a ‘haha’ over 600 letters long! We weren’t laughing that day”.