Spend some time around any teenager and you’ll probably hear some new slang that you don’t understand. If you do get it, and you’re not a teenager or young adult yourself, chances are it’s already gone the way of the dodo in the minds and twisted hearts of said youngsters.
Facebook is hoping to combat this with a new software patent that would detect and gather new lingo as it appears on the social network, making it available to everyone.
As if we needed one more reason to feel old.
While this may not be a harbinger of the irrelevance of Facebook, a network that has seen a decline in young users in the past year, it does show that Zuck and company want to make sure everyone can understand each other. Oh, and probably serve more accurate targeted ads.
These new words are called neologisms, meaning new bits of language being used by certain groups of people that aren’t quite in common use, yet. Think of the ’80s term, “rad,” short for radical, or “sick” as a positive adjective. Examples of newer neologisms, according to Grammar Monster, include “oversharers” and “digital detox,” while those in transition to mainstream use include “metrosexual” and “noob.”
Whatever the specific case, this new Facebook patent might have found a way to figure out what these neologisms are before they break the surface to everyday use. The software will find new terms, make sure they’re not already in use, and then add them to a special “social glossary.” Then, the system might check with current users to make sure that terms are still current, and remove them when they aren’t.
Facebook could use this social glossary to inform it’s own predictive-text system, or to make sure that all users can participate in group discussions, or (obviously) use these new terms to help refine ad-targeting behaviors on the social network.
However it plays out, the new software could be totally tubular, man, if it helps us all get along just a bit more.